On November 23, 2016, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission announced that they will host a public meeting and open house regarding the Pavillion Area Groundwater Investigation. At the meeting, WODEQ and WOGCC will provide information regarding their final investigation report. The final report was issued November 10, 2016 and concludes that “it is unlikely that hydraulic fracturing fluids have risen to shallower depths intersected by water-supply wells.” The report also states that WODEQ and WOGCC were unable to determine whether methane found in the Pavillion water wells was naturally occurring in shallow gas formations or if the methane had migrated from the annular space in nearby production wells.
By way of background, in 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began an investigation into alleged groundwater contamination within the Pavillion Gas Field Cistern Area. USEPA published a draft report in December of 2011, concluding that hydraulic fracturing fluids may have impacted the groundwater. The methodology used by USEPA in its draft report was heavily criticized, and USEPA subsequently announced that it would not publish a final report concerning its investigation. In June of 2013, WODEQ and WOGCC announced that they would conduct a separate investigation into the alleged groundwater contamination, which now concludes with the release of the final report.