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Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

HAMMOND, La. -- The Tangipahoa Parish Water District has started testing water wells in the northern part of the parish for methane.

The move comes after concerns in St. Tammany Parish over fracking, a method of oil drilling that's been booming in Tangipahoa for more than five years. The drilling growth there is in stark contrast to the challenged attempt to start fracking in St. Tammany.

And even though few, if any, concerns have been raised about fracking in Tangipahoa, water district officials having been taking note of the opposition to the east.

'With the fracking controversy and methane being a big name that keeps coming up, we decided to start tracking it and seeing if it was a problem,' said water district consultant Bill Travis.

Normally, the district tests water every month to monitor pH levels. The water is also given a chemical scan every three years as per DHH requirements.

But neither of those include a lookout for methane. So in May, the district began tests on about 10 wells across north Tangipahoa Parish just for methane. The wells are a mixture of district wells and municipalities, and the results are sent to a company that's EPA-certified to find methane.

'There can be some methane in a well. It has no limit. The EPA has not set an amount of methane for a well,'Travis said. 'So the big thing we're looking for is change and residuals.'

So far, out of the wells tested, only one has come back with small traces of methane.

The district says it will do the methane testing every six months for about two years. If no change is detected in that time, the testing will move to once a year, unless an issue comes up.

Residents say they like the proactive step.

'Well, it's probably a good thing,'said farmer Gerald Burns, who has leased land in the Fluker area. 'I have no problem with that.'

The water district says the move is giving them answers before questions even start.

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