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Sandia to assist study of San Juan Basin water

FARMINGTON — Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories are partnering with the Bureau of Land Management to study how oil and gas development could impact water supplies in the San Juan Basin.


Thomas Lowry of Sandia National Laboratories presents information about a new study in the San Juan Basin. (Daily Times photo/Hanna Grover)

He said the study has just recently started, but is similar to work done in the Permian Basin near Carlsbad. He said researchers will collect historical data, verify the data through field tests to ensure it is still relevant and monitor water wells in the San Juan Basin.

In Carlsbad, researchers measured the depth of 37 wells and installed 14 continuously monitoring systems. Researchers also sampled 67 wells for water chemistry data.

Field work in the San Juan Basin began last week. Lowry anticipates researchers will take samples on a weekly basis over the upcoming months.

Lowry said tests will help show the availability of water and how it is currently being used. He anticipates the results will be available in September 2020.

Lowry’s team will monitor water wells in portions of the San Juan Basin that are likely to see increased oil and gas development near them. He said the team is also partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor two wells in Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Well owners can volunteer to have their wells monitored or tested by emailing Property owners who volunteer to have their wells monitored will receive test results.