Antero Hits Aquifer in WV, Creates Backyard Geysers

Antero Resources was drilling a natural gas well in the Sardis, WV area (near Clarksburg) when they hit a water aquifer in the area. It resulted in several abandoned nearby water wells to start gushing water, some of it blowing 10 feet or more into the air. But there were no chemicals being used during drilling, it was the initial stages and only water and air were used, and the air is what caused the problem.

Here’s what happened:

Authorities say a gas drilling operation in the Sardis area hit an aquifer and inadvertently repressurized a handful of old water wells Wednesday, creating a backyard geyser at least 10 feet high and several smaller gushers.

The house with the 10- to 12-foot geyser was flooded, said Paul Bump, chief of the Harrison County Bureau of Emergency Services. At three or four other homes, the water flooded yards and garages.

"It looked like Old Faithful moved out East," said Dale Sturm, a 63-year-old retired carpenter who noticed his patio was wet shortly before 7 a.m.

Sturm said he went outside to investigate and found water "blowing up under my car" from a crack that had opened in the cement about a foot from the garage door.

The residents’ wells have long been disconnected from the indoor plumbing because the homes are all on a public water supply and don’t use them for drinking.

"It’s not a danger to anyone. It’s more of a nuisance," said Bump, adding that the residents he spoke to were surprisingly calm. "Can you imagine, waking up to drink your first cup of coffee and see water shooting out of your yard?"*

How could this happen?

Antero vice president Al Schopp said the company has deployed staff to do its own investigation, but it believes it knows what went wrong.

Workers were drilling the initial hole with just fresh water and air when the bit became stuck, he said. Rather than turn the airflow off, the crew left it on as they tried to withdraw the drill.

"That basically charged up the aquifer," he said, and the trapped air then sought a place to escape.*

The state DEP is investigating to see if Antero violated any drilling rules.

*The Charleston Gazette/AP (Jun 6, 2012) – Gas drillers hit aquifer; geysers erupt