DIXIE, LA (KSLA) - A Dixie, Louisiana family made a startling discovery recently when they lit a flame next to the water coming out of their household faucet and it burst into flames. They don't live far from a natural gas drilling site, but experts say that may have nothing to do with it.
The Parker family has two houses on property that shares a private well. They explained they've been having issues with their water for about a year, but didn't know how serious it was until now.
"Especially in the morning, you come in and turn the water on and there is so much air pressure in the lines that is just blows water everywhere, you're soaked," said Sarah Evans, who was visiting her parents from out of town, when she came up with the idea to put a lighter to her parents' faucet.
"I did it because I'd seen it on TV before and a flame came up," she said. That's when she walked next door to her brother's house, that's connected to the same well, and did the same thing. "His water blew up and caught the fringe of the curtains, that is how high the flames came up," Evans explained.
That's not the only strange thing that happened with their water. The Parkers also claim their 17-year-old daughter, Meaghan, has passed out while doing the dishes. "My dad came out and tried to talk to me, he said I leaned back, let go, and hit the floor." Meaghan says she went to the hospital, but doctors couldn't pinpoint the reason for her fainting spell.
The family suspects they have methane gas leaking into their private well water. John Parker suspects the leak is coming from a nearby oil and gas company that drills close to their homes. "This only started once they started drilling those wells," Parker said.
That company, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, tells KSLA News 12 they will be doing some testing to see whether there is a leak. "At this time, no one knows the source of this issue, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Office of Conservation has been notified so that a third-party expert can collect samples, conduct further testing and determine the source," External Communications Director John Christiansen said in a written statement. In the meantime, the company has delivered several cases of water to the families to be, as they put it, "good neighbors."
As a result of the Dixie area being rich in natural gas, the Parker's water problem could very well be natural rather than a leak by the drilling company, said Hydrologist Gary Hanson who has studied similar scenarios like this extensively.
Hanson says he has seen several problems in the Dixie area where water well drillers drill into normal shallow formations of shale that produce the gas. "I'd have to look at it case by case, but we have no examples where we have actually seen natural gas coming in from a well, that was drilled nearby," Hanson said.
"It makes you wonder what's going to happen next," said Josephine Parker, who explained the gas scared them so greatly, they shut off their water well and temporarily switched to the community water system until the problem can be fixed.
Patrick Courreges, Department of Natural Resources Communications Director confirmed to KSLA News 12, they will be sending an agent to the Parker's home within the next few days to try to identify the source of their problem.
If you think you're water supply has a methane gas contaminant, the Department of Environmental Quality encourages you to call them to make a report at 888-763-5424.