Oil & Gas Industry

Effects of Oil and Gas Industry on Watersheds

Direct Contamination (Oil and Gas Spills) of a Waterway

  • Could occur from an accident while transporting, a well leak, or from poor drilling practices and equipment
  • Causes widespread devastation to life living in and along the stream.
      • Taints algae
      • Damages fish larvae, can affect the young of reptiles and amphibians as well (can cause deformities)
      • Poisons any animals that ingest it, which allows it to bioaccumulate up the food chain if it doesn’t kill the animal.
      • Accumulates in sediment along the bottom and can majorly affect the diversity of invertebrates especially in slower sections of the waterway
  • Natural gas drilling has been known to add highly toxic chemicals to water such as Benzene making it unusable for humans and damaging for other organisms.
      • Total dissolved salts of various salts, chlorine, and heavy metals are known to increase in areas downstream of from the flow back of the well where the wastewater from drilling is dumped.

Sedimentation of Waterways from Well Pad Construction and Road Runoff

  • To prepare for drilling often the site needs to be leveled flat and have the vegetation removed.
      • This creates a lot of loose dirt and mud that will flow right into the nearby stream/river without any vegetation to filter or hold it down.
  • The roads used by these drilling companies are often dirt roads that see heavy traffic.
      • Leads to heavy, unfiltered road runoff into the streams that is usually very dirty and full of sediment.
  • Sedimentation can clog fish gills, impact feeding capabilities of organisms, decrease photosynthesis of underwater plants and algae, and degrade overall stream habitat