WorldWide Drilling Resource

11 JANUARY 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Environmental Monitoring by Thomas Kwader, Ph.D., P.G. Owner, Qwater Well Developer and WorldWide Drilling Resource® Hydrogeologist Injections Wells ~ Do They Pose a Threat to Our Drinking Water? Part 1 of 3 This is Part 1 of a 3-part series addressing the past practice of unregulated disposal of wastewater into the ground. Part 2 will discuss the establishment of rules and regulations governing disposal, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. Part 3 will discuss progress with the UIC Program and moving forward. The practice of disposing of unwanted wastewater into the ground probably started hundreds of years ago when someone decided to pour some waste into a hole in the ground or an abandoned well because it was convenient - without any thought about the impacts of groundwater contamination. Wastewater was also dumped into open bodies of water or just onto the ground surface. Drums or tanks containing contamination were buried underground with no regulations. Contaminating our groundwater, intentionally or accidentally, may cause irreparable harm to our water supplies, human health, and environment. Some compounds, particularly chlorinated compounds, can persist in the environment for decades. Such impacts may go unnoticed for years and spread many miles from the original source in the water, soil, and air. Prior to the 1970s, little was known about groundwater flow and groundwater modelling was in its infancy. There were few books on the subject when I was in college, and they mainly dealt with fluid dynamics, heavy mathematics, and calculus. Environmental concerns had not yet gained momentum so they were poorly understood and not yet an important topic. In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a quantum leap around the world in the complexities of wastes generated. All types of waste were disposed of in rivers or pits, ponds, and lagoons - often without impermeable liners. Landfills were completed without impervious caps, allowing leachate to flow from landfills into groundwater, lakes, and wells without monitoring systems in place. Quite honestly, prior to the inception of EPA’s UIC well program in the 1970s and 1980s, our groundwater was being contaminated at a very rapid rate we did not comprehend. Tom Tom Kwader may be contacted via e-mail to ENV