New Guide From CU-Boulder Helps Water Well Users Test Water Quality

CU-Boulder’s Colorado Water and Energy Research Center (CWERC) has released a new tool for well water usesrs to test their water quality. “Monitoring Water Quality in Areas of Oil and Natural Gas Development: A Guide for Water Well Users” is a free tool and is available to download or request a print copy.

The guide includes a well sampling worksheet, a list of resources, information on free baseline testing, and instructions on finding a testing laboratory. It also includes lists of the analytes. (An analyte is a substance or an aspect of water quality that is the subject of analysis.)

The guide walks water well users through the water testing process, including how to interpret the test results. A step-by-step slideshow shows how the samples should be collected, labeled and transported to the lab.

Colorado’s oil and gas regulations do not require oil and gas operators to sample every water well in an oil or gas field. With this new guide, well owners can be proactive about understanding their well, and in creating a baseline for the quantity and quality of their well water. Well users can also send their baseline water quality data to the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission’s public database so that it can be added to a statewide map.

An excerpt from the guide:

“Universities across the country have been playing important roles in the process as well – providing guidance on groundwater sampling, collecting baseline groundwater samples, and compiling and analyzing large sets of baseline groundwater quality data.

It is CWERC’s hope that these combined efforts will help shift the public debate over oil and gas extraction from a tangle of misinformation and uncertainty to a productive, transparent, and evidence-based conversation.”

CWERC was co-founded in 2011 by CU-Boulder professors Mark Williams and Joe Ryan with funding from the campus’ Office for University Outreach. Dr. Ryan is a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering. Dr. Williams is a fellow at the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) and a professor of Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Dr. Williams is featured in several Learn More About Climate videos, including the Emmy-nominated “Water: A Zero Sum Game”. Learn more about the Water Energy Nexus in the Water & Energy section of this website.

You can also ask questions about the guide or order a printed version by email, or by calling 303-492-4561.


  1. I didn’t see a place for me to add my snail mail address to get a copy of the manual. Please advise.

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