Image courtesy of the Western States Petroleum Association.

California regulators shut down 33 permitted wastewater injection wells on Thursday after finding the wells had injected wastewater into federally protected aquifers.

According to the San Francisco Gate, California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) shut down 31 wells in Kern County, one well in northern Los Angeles County and another well in Ventura County.

The DOGGR told the paper that only 21 of the wells were actively injecting when the order was issued.

The move is part of an ongoing effort to curb injection into California’s groundwater supply and bring the state’s injection well program into compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Earlier this year, the division began a corrective review to identify wells that may have been improperly permitted to inject produced fluids into non-hydrocarbon producing, non-exempt aquifers.

So far, the division has identified 178 wells that were injecting wastewater into protected aquifers containing relatively high quality water, the SF Gate said.

The new round of shutdowns brings the total number of wastewater injection wells that have been closed by the state to 56.

The review has not turned up any wells injecting wastewater into aquifers used by the public water supply systems and California’s State Water Resources Control Board has not found any water supply contamination.

Regulators are now evaluating a small group of permitted injection wells to determine if their associated aquifers could have future beneficial uses based on reported salinity levels, industry trade group Western States Petroleum Association said.

In April, the division adopted emergency regulations to bring California’s Class II Underground Injection Control program into compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

“California’s injection wells have been operating with the necessary permits, and producers are now providing state regulators with an unprecedented amount of data,” Western States Petroleum Association president Catherine Reheis-Boyd said on Saturday.


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