NH's Proposed Gas Pipeline and Your Water Well

What you need to know about your water well and the natural gas pipeline proposed to go through your town in New Hampshire

If you live along the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border, chances are you’ve heard about the natural gas pipeline proposed to run from the Berkshires into New Hampshire and across the border again into Dracut, Mass. Building a project of this size takes months and sometimes years to complete, however, knowing a little about how these projects are constructed can help you stay on top of the process and informed about any potential risks.

Regardless of the project, whenever there is large-scale construction near your home, it could impact your home well water supply. At Skillings & Sons, we recommend homeowners test their water whenever they notice a change in quality, such as a new strange taste or smell, or the presence of sediment. We also suggest homeowners test their water if there has been a massive construction project ongoing nearby. Here’s why:

Large-Scale Construction Projects Often Require Blasting

Granite ledge is a common geological feature in this part of the country. Large formations of bedrock provide us with an ample supply of clean, great-tasting water. But it also means that whenever a road, large new development, or pipeline is built, there will likely be some blasting.
According to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, blasting can cause silt, sand, and rock particles to shake loose into bedrock fractures that carry water into nearby bedrock wells. This sediment then travels into our home water supply, increasing what is known as “turbidity.” High turbidity is not only unpleasant to drink, but it can also damage a home’s water fixtures and appliances.

Homeowners should be aware that high turbidity can sometimes carry with it other harmful contaminants such as metals or blasting chemicals. Detonator and explosive materials are sometimes not entirely combusted during the blast and are then released into the groundwater. This includes residual chemicals left behind on the blasted rock materials, both within the ground and removed and stockpiled on the construction site.

Blasting contamination is often associated with increased levels of nitrate or nitrite, and in some rare cases, volatile organic compounds.

Construction And The Flow Of Groundwater

Blasting on a large-scale construction site can temporarily disrupt the flow of water into your home’s well, but is unlikely to damage it. Studies of wells near blasting zones show there is little likelihood of a blast damaging a well, well casing or pump, especially in areas where people live and lower charges are used.

There is a chance that the well could see a drop in flow because loosened rock and sediment are blocking the flow of water to the well. This problem can be solved with a technique called hydrofracking. This process sends a highly pressurized blast of water deep into the well, loosening and eliminating the rocks and debris blocking the flow of water into your well. This technique is safe, uses no chemicals and works so well, Skillings & Sons offers a guarantee. 

While most of this post has addressed potential damage to bedrock wells, those homes with shallow wells should also be on alert when construction is taking place nearby. Disruptions in the soil around your home and well can lead to bacteria contamination.

Skillings & Sons recommends water testing and shock chlorination if warranted, to fully eliminate the risk of contamination after construction.