- May 29 - Watch the live broadcast of the UIC Advisory Panel meeting #1. Details HERE.
- Be ready to submit comments to the panel when public comment period and process is announced.
What is happening in Fillmore? What is an "aquifer exemption?"
Our state oil and gas regulatory office, called DOGGR, allowed an oil company to dump toxic oil field wastewater into an aquifer behind the City of Fillmore and beneath Los Padres National Forest, without proper review as required by the EPA. The aquifer is protected under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and is located next to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, where the California Condor is making a tenuous recovery from the brink of extinction.
The EPA found DOGGR in violation of their duty and now the oil company has been forced to submit the proper application, which seeks to exempt the injection area/aquifer from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
That exemption zone, is just a few thousand feet (about ½ mile)
from the town of Fillmore's only source of water - the Fillmore/Piru Basin.
During the public review process for the exemption application, DOGGR used a boundary map of the Fillmore/Piru Basin that was 1) two years out of date and 2) showed the distance to the injection zone as 1.5 miles, rather than ½ mile according to current maps.
A hydrologist report commissioned by partner org Los Padres ForestWatch states, "...water contained in the Basal Sespe Formation [proposed injection zone] may be hydrologically connected to drainage areas northwest of Tar Creek, and may contribute flow to the Sespe Creek, an important source of recharge to the Fillmore groundwater subbasin."
That means DOGGR cannot guarantee that Fillmore’s water will be protected from contamination from the oil field waste and fracking chemicals.
What is an aquifer exemption?
An aquifer is an area underground that holds water. Aquifers that could be used for drinking or irrigation (and other uses) are protected under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. An oil company can apply to remove that protection by showing the aquifer cannot ever be used for any good uses – thus exempting it from the Safe Drinking Water Act. In an agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 9, our state oil and gas regulatory office – the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) handles aquifer exemption applications. DOGGR and the state Water Board examine the applications and technical evidence and if those two agencies "concur" a public comment period begins and then the application is submitted to Tomas Torres, Water Division Director, Region 9, Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
*The official comment period has already ended, BUT our partner, Los Padres ForestWatch has uncovered the fact that DOGGR provided inaccurate information during the public comment period. DOGGR's info showed the proposed exemption area as being over one mile mile from the Fillmore Subbasin - when in reality it is just 1/2 mile from the northern boundary of the Fillmore SubBasin.
What is happening now in the Sespe behind Fillmore?
- An oil company has applied to expand the area where it is allowed to inject oil field waste in an underground area called the Sespe Basal Formation in the canyons behind Fillmore.
- The Sespe Basal’s southern edge – underground, comes within about a 1/2 mile of the Fillmore Sub-basin – the groundwater basin that supplies drinking water & irrigation (ag) water to Fillmore – currently the ONLY source of water for Fillmore.
- What is in oil field waste? produced water, which is brine water that comes up with oil and gas. That produced water can include various chemicals and compounds used in drilling including: detergents, biocides and other substances used to keep the well clean and clear and oil flowing out of the well.
- What about fracking waste? If the company receives permits for fracking in the future, injected waste would include chemicals used in fracking.
- Injection for Enhanced Oil Recovery –the oil company can also inject steam and other compounds for other enhanced oil recovery processes.
- Contact YOUR elected officials: Now call or write to your local (city, county), state and federal elected officials to let them know you want Fillmore's water protected from the hazards associated with expansion of oil waste injection in the Sespe. Ask them to send comments opposing the aquifer exemption to DOGGR and the EPA.
Other Issues include:
- Seismic/Earthquake concerns
- Numerous Endangered and threatened species and over two dozen migratory birds could be impacted by increased activity including the California Condor, Steelhead trout; Coastal California Gnatcatcher; Least Bell’s Vireo; Southwestern Willow Flycatcher; Arroyo Toad; California Red-legged Frog; Riverside Fairy Shrimp; Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp; California Orcutt Grass; Black Skimmer; Black Swift; Black Turnstone; Black-chinned Sparrow; Burrowing Owl; California Thrasher; Common Yellowthroat; Costa’s Hummingbird; Lawrence’s Goldfinch; Lewis’s Woodpecker; Long-billed Curlew; Marbled Godwit; Mountain Plover; Nuttall’s Woodpecker; Oak Titmouse; Red Knot; Rufous
- This expands oil waste injection into the Los Padres National Forest.
- Removing this aquifer from the protection of the Safe Drinking Water Act opens the door to fracking.
- In a world of worsening climate change, droughts are predicted to reoccur and become increasingly severe. We should not sacrifice water now that could one day be of beneficial use.
Kimberly Rivers, Executive Director, cell: 805-727-1393
Citizens For Responsible Oil & Gas, is a 501c3