Pollution from stormwater is an issue with all types of development from urban to rural areas. Regulation of stormwater discharges from oil and gas exploration, production, processing and treatment activities has been particularly controversial in the last few years. Resources on EPA's web pages address both the problem and some of the solutions.
Regulation of Oil and Gas Construction Activities – A summary of the issues, legislation, regulations and litigation
Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans for Construction Activities – Information on Pollution Prevention Plans, permitting and BMPs
Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control – Addresses key BMPs to help municipal stormwater programs and construction site operators comply with the stormwater Phase II requirements.
Regulating Stormwater – The Role of Federal, State, and Local Governments in Colorado – Explanation of the stormwater regulatory scheme and an example of how the regulatory scheme works in Colorado
Torn pit liner. Photo courtesy of Earthworks.
Pits – circulation, water storage, completion, flowback, and reserve
– are dug to hold fluids and solids during well development and
to dispose of waste from production. Pits may be lined or
unlined, and their contents may be disposed of in many ways. Best
management practices are essential for limiting pit pollution
of both surface and groundwater
New Mexico Oil and Gas Conservation Division
Prevention Best Management Practices (scroll down)
Prevention Pocket Guide
Alternatives to Pits? Closed-Loop Containment System
New Mexico Pit Rule Mapping Portal
Funded by the RPSEA -Small Producer Program, the New Mexico Pit Rule Mapping Portal generates maps of potential site regulatory issues using government recommended data. These maps will help reduce time needed for evaluation, preparation and review of C-144 forms and attachments and allow better determination of optimal and allowed locations of pits and tanks with respect to current siting criteria.
See our Hydraulic Fracturing page for more information
Oil and gas operators have conducted hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracing,” for over sixty years in either vertical or slant wells (this is often referred to as “conventional drilling”). Within the past decade, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has been used with increasing frequency in each of the intermountain states to increase the volume of natural gas that can be extracted from tight sand, coalbed, and shale formations, and thereby make the extraction process economically feasible (this is often referred to as “unconventional drilling”). Concerns abound that both the below-ground and above-ground activities associated with fracing may impact water quality. Our Hydraulic Fracturing page contains (1) a general overview of fracing technology, (2) a discussion about the controversy surrounding fracing, (3) a summary of current and pending regulations, and (4) resource documents and websites for further reference.
Coalbed methane (CBM) is a form of natural gas that is trapped within coal seams. CBM is produced and transported with much the same process and equipment as methane from a regular gas field. The major difference is that wells are drilled into the coal seam to first remove water. As the water is removed and water pressure in the seam decreases, the gas is released from the coal and flows through fractures in the coal to the well. The quality of CBM produced water varies widely. Potential uses and disposal methods are controversial.
Effects of coalbed natural gas development on ecological conditions in selected streams in Wyoming and Montana, 2005-2008 – A USGS study, done in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department, evaluated the effects of water produced from coalbed natural gas development on biological communities — aquatic insects, algal, and fish — in selected streams in the Powder River basin in Wyoming and Montana.
For an introduction to CBM development, see our Coalbed Methane page.
State by State
Piceance Basin Water Quality Repository - As large-scale energy development continues in the Piceance Basin in northwestern Colorado, there is potential for changes in surface-and groundwater resources. USGS, in cooperation with over 25 entities created a public, web-accessible common data repository combining water-quality data from various sources to establish a baseline assessment of the region’s water resources. Collaborative partners supporting the project include the energy industry, local citizens, cities and counties, state agencies, the Bureau of Land Management, private consultants, the West Divide Water Conservancy District, and the Colorado River Water Conservation District. The data will be used to develop regional monitoring strategies needed to fill identified data gaps, and minimize redundancies in current and future water-resource monitoring.
The Water Information Program - Water
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission - New Rules
COGCC - Text
of the rules (click on Rules)
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Workshop - The
Earthworks - A
Conservation Perspective on the Rules
Water Information Program: To provide information to the
public and community on water topics and water related issues.
Montana Board of Oil and Gas -
Coal Bed Methane Information
Montana Department of Environmental Quality - Coal
New Mexico Oil Conservation Division Rules
NM Oil Conservation Division - Current
and Proposed Rules
NM Oil Conservation Division - Highlights
of the Pit Rule
A Conservation Perspective on the Pit Rule
Utah Division of Water Rights - Water
Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Oil and Gas Program- Web site
updated with news and changes in regulations
Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission