Scientific Study shows coal bed methane development harms groundwater

Scientific Study shows coal bed methane development harms groundwater Press Release March 30, 2009
A peer-reviewed scientific study published in the March issue of the Journal of Hydrology details the devastating effects that coal bed methane development will have on groundwater aquifers in the Powder River Basin. Using data collected by the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, hydrologist Dr. Thomas Myers of Reno, Nevada, developed a numerical groundwater flow model that simulated aquifer drawdown during coal bed methane well development. The model verified the existing conditions in the aquifers and predicted that aquifer drawdown could exceed 290 feet in the middle of the methane fields with nearly 20-foot drawdowns extending 46 miles from the methane fields. Dr. Myers’ simulation indicates that groundwater depletion will affect river flows in the region by depleting groundwater discharge and natural recharge of the rivers. The drawdown will also affect hundreds of wells and natural springs, important sources of domestic and stock water for residents of this area. After methane development ceases, recovery of the aquifers will take up to 50 years, and as long as 200 years for full recovery.

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