Our Aquifer at Risk

Monterey County has 35 class II wastewater injection wells that are injecting into protected aquifers with 3,000 - 10,000 TDS (Total Dissolved Solids).  

Groundwater_Basin.jpgThere are 261 water supplying wells within 1 mile of these wastewater injection wells, likely wells for nearby ranches, farms and rural residences.  Most of these wastewater injection wells are in San Ardo oil fields. Monterey County has a total of 44 active or idle wastewater injection wells. The other 65 are plugged or abandoned.

A table with locations is below. 



In May 2015, DOGGR sent to EPA a list of California’s class II wastewater injection wells that are injecting into protected aquifers.  

The DOGGR letter is at: http://bit.ly/1ZOjMwt

In Nov 2015, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board sent letters to oil and gas operators whose wastewater injection wells are injecting into protected aquifers. The wells listed will be shut down by February 2017 unless the operators get an “aquifer exemption.” DOGGR is holding public hearings about whether to grant aquifer exemptions. A big crowd turned out for the DOGGR aquifer exemption hearing in San Luis Obispo, (see article athttp://bit.ly/1V8bpYj). 

Monterey County’s DOGGR hearing has not yet been scheduled.   

Both DOGGR and the EPA acknowledge that 80% of Monterey’s wastewater injection wells (35 out of 44) put at risk aquifers that should be protected. 

In July, 2014, the state found that the industry had illegally injected about 3 billion gallons of fracking wastewater, containing high levels of arsenic, thallium, and nitrates, into central California drinking-water and farm-irrigation aquifers, and DOGGR issued cease and desist orders. Unfortunately, the oil industry has a lot of political influence and may get the Monterey County aquifer exemptions they seek, so the regulatory process may not protect the public.

The PMC initiative appears to be the most effective way to tackle the problem of wastewater injection wells here. 


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