Inducing Methane By Pumping Water Wells
Throughout the United States, citizens near commercial gas wells report that their water has methane in it, often related to the gas dissolved in ground water being released from their aquifer rocks that have organic matter naturally in them.
Don Siegel has studied methane produced in wetlands for over 30 years, and noticed that when he pumped water from organic soils (peat) and lowered the water table, methane gas would often bubble and burst out sufficiently to be burned at the top of the pipe.
He and colleagues found the same effect in domestic water wells in Appalachia—that when water wells are pumped, methane naturally degasses into air above wells and more methane often can be found dissolved in the water.
This should be taken into account when regulators consider increasing concentrations of methane in drinking water near gas wells might be related to the gas wells.
Such increases may, in fact, be related to the pumping of the water well itself.
For More Information:
Smith. B., Becker, M., and D.I. Siegel, 2016, Temporal Variability of Methane in Domestic Groundwater Wells, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Environmental Geosciences, vol. v. 23, p. 49– 80.
We have published other Briefings on natural methane in groundwater and the environment. You can read them here:
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