Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health

Field of Study

Community Health


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Dennis Thombs

Second Advisor

Emily Spence-Almaguer

Third Advisor

David Sterling


Researchers from various fields have raised concerns about surface water protection from shale gas drilling operations. The study includes a critical review of data from three social artifacts: satellite images from the Upper Trinity River Watershed, Texas Railroad Commission’s (TRRC) agency reports related to oil and gas production monitoring and regulating activities, and Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR) from three municipal drinking water suppliers, which draw water from the Trinity River in areas on and off of the Barnett Shale. TRRC and CCR data were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed for descriptive material and trends over the last decade. Upon review of the data it is apparent regulatory capability and monitoring activities did not increase to a great degree while oil and gas production boomed. There was also evidence of surface water rules being violated over the study period. The proximity to waterways currently allowed raises questions about whether natural gas production could have the potential to impact the quality of surface water, thus impacting drinking water. Overall, water quality measures reported in CCRs met or exceeded state and federal requirements for the entire study period, 2001 - 2012. However, differences in contaminants and contaminant levels on versus off the Barnett Shale were identified. Of the 72 contaminants listed in the study CCRs, and the 35 contaminants found in both the study CCRs and shale gas literature review, 12 were chosen as contaminants of interest: antimony, arsenic, barium, chromium, gross alpha, gross beta, lindane, radium, selenium, thallium, total coliform, and total organic carbon. Differences in these contaminants and levels raises further questions. Review of the three social artifacts reveals efforts to keep the public informed about their drinking water as well as monitoring and regulation of natural gas production are in need of review and improvement.


Meier, Naomi M., Shale Gas Production and Surface Water: An Exploratory Case Study On Drinking Water in the Dallas And Fort Worth Metroplex 2001 - 2012, Doctor of Public Health (Behavioral and Community Health), May 2014, 439 pp., 91 Figures and Tables, 5 Appendices, and 228 References.