Colorado Water Watch: real-time groundwater monitoring for possible contamination from oil and gas activities

Environ Monit Assess. 2018 Feb 13;190(3):138. doi: 10.1007/s10661-018-6509-6.


Currently, only a few states in the USA (e.g., Colorado and Ohio) require mandatory baseline groundwater sampling from nearby groundwater wells prior to drilling a new oil or gas well. Colorado is the first state to regulate groundwater testing before and after drilling, which requires one pre-drilling sample and two additional post-drilling samples within 6-12 months and 5-6 years of drilling. However, the monitoring method is limited to the state's regulatory agency and to ex situ sampling, which offers only a snapshot in time. To overcome the limitations and increase monitoring performance, a new groundwater monitoring system, Colorado Water Watch (CWW), was introduced as a decision-making tool to support the state's regulatory agency and also to provide real-time groundwater quality data to both the industry and the public. The CWW uses simple in situ water quality sensors based on the surrogate sensing technology that employs an event detection system to screen the incoming data in near real-time.

Keywords: Contamination; Fracturing fluid; Groundwater quality; Real-time groundwater monitoring; Shale gas.

MeSH terms

  • Colorado
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Extraction and Processing Industry*
  • Groundwater / chemistry*
  • Natural Gas
  • Ohio
  • Oil and Gas Fields*
  • Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Quality
  • Water Supply
  • Water Wells


  • Natural Gas
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Water