Tests verify low pH in Carlile wells


By Sarah Pridgeon

The Department of Environmental Quality has completed laboratory analysis of 32 private wells in the Carlile area, where private citizens recently reported that their wells were running dry or unusually acidic. The results so far show that additional wells in the test area are displaying lower pH levels than the state standard.

DEQ received reports of water quality issues on August 11 for two existing and two deeper, replacement domestic wells located 18 miles northeast of Moorcroft. The two existing wells were reported to have been producing a good quantity of water until running dry almost literally overnight, while the two replacement wells had low pH values.

According to a local landowner, one of the wells initially identified went from a comfortable 15 gallons per minute to producing nothing, after having run without issue for around 17 years.

DEQ sent water sampling crews to the area on October 25 to test wells in the identified study area, southwest of Carlile. A total of 53 water sources have been sampled so far and 32 have been analyzed, with the remaining results expected soon.

According to the sampling results, a total of five wells have been identified as having low pH at a value of or below four, while an additional three wells and one spring have pH levels slightly below the state standard of 6.5 for domestic wells.

DEQ is additionally conducting fingerprinting analysis for the type of acid in the low pH wells. The next steps, once the data has been validated, will be to provide information to the landowners or their wells and meet with them to discuss the results.

An advisory group has been established to work towards the objective of investigating the cause of the impacts to wells in the study area. The executive committee, which will operate alongside four working groups, consists of representatives from DEQ, Water Development Office, State Engineers Office, Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the City of Gillette.

Meetings of the working groups and executive committee will be open to the public and comments will be taken. Questions should be directed to lily.lee@wyo.gov or to Lily Lee by phone at 307-777-7072.