Drilling for water in a old oil field?

I am purchasing five acres in southwest New York State. The land is about 2300 feet in elevation and was part of an oil and gas field during the oil boom. I have checked the USGS website and found approximately 20 oil and gas wells have been drilled on the property and are now capped.

My concern is that I want to drill for water. But, I wonder if the water table has been damaged to the extent that I will not have a good well for a home. Does the table repair itself over time? How would you test for this? What is the most economical way to do this? I close on the property the end of February and would like to know what my options are before the middle of February. Thank you.
Thank you for the information. I will contact the local landowners.

One Response to “Drilling for water in a old oil field?”

  1. leveretth Says:

    If the oil wells were drilled properly, you’re likely to have no problem. When they drill oil wells, they are required to line the hole with pipe so that when they hit oil, it doesn’t come gushing up and just go straight into the water table. Oil is generally found much deeper than the water table. If oil *has* leaked into the water table, there’s little you can do. It might repair itself, but this would probably take longer than your lifespan. It’s possible that none of the wells ever even found any oil.

    I recommend that you talk to all of your neighbors that have land adjoining the parcel you wish to purchase. Ask them about their water quality. Also ask them if they have any oil wells (capped or otherwise) on their property. If they too have wells and their water is fine, I’d say there’s about a 99% chance that yours is too. But…the current owner wants to sell it for a reason…

    If it were me, I’d cough up the extra money to hire a professional geologist to come out and determine if you water table is clean. If there are problems, you’ll be glad you spent the money. If there aren’t, keep the documentation for when (or if) you ever want to sell the property to someone like you that asks these kinds of tough (but necessary) questions.

    There might even be a NY state service that’ll do it for you for a nominal cost or even for free.

    Bottom line: you need professional advice.