Florida’s environmental agency began releasing the results of groundwater testing in Collier County this week. State officials said the results show there’s no contamination at the Collier-Hogan oil well site near Lake Trafford. However, water quality experts have said the state isn’t testing properly for contamination.
Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has released two rounds of water quality test results.
State officials said groundwater in Collier County has not been impacted by the controversial drilling at the Collier-Hogan well. Last December, the Dan A. Hughes Company performed an unauthorized oil extraction procedure similar to fracking.
The company was fined and asked to test nearby water. Now, the company is locked in a legal dispute. So, the state decided to conduct its own test at the request of county officials and angry residents. However, water policy expert Jennifer Hecker, who work at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, has warned the state isn’t drilling test wells deep enough.
“Fracking like activity would be very deep in the ground beneath our aquifers that we use for public drinking supply,” Hecker said. “ So, that’s where our groundwater monitoring wells should have been installed. Unfortunately they installed very shallow wells, which are sampling an area which would practically be the last place one would find contamination from this type of activity.”
Hecker said testing should be conducted at no less than 900 feet. The DEP is testing at 13 feet. Officials eventually plan to test at well that’s 400 feet deep.
In a press release, DEP officials said because groundwater is close to the surface in that region, the “shallow depths of these wells [is] the location most likely to be the first impacted by activities at the site, and therefore yield the most accurate results at this point in the process.”
Hecker said she’s concerned these results will give people a false sense of security. She said the DEP needs to more effectively protect water quality in the area.