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Oily water on my property

 
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When water pools up on my new property, I see an oily surface in some parts.  Can that be natural, or does it necessarily mean that there is some contamination that I need to address?

I moved here about 6 months ago.  I'd like to build a small pond, but if there is some kind of oil leak, then certainly that would need to be addressed first.  There is no obvious source of oil like a car repair shop next door or anything.

Thanks!
IMG_20210902_074949934.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20210902_074949934.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Can you give us a bit of history on your property? And a rough location? Is the oil sheen quite localized?
 
pollinator
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I have seen that before, maybe a water test will help but I THINK its from particular plants

There are two main sources of oily film on water: hydrogen sulfide and iron bacteria. Here's your trick for being able to tell the difference: stir the water with a stick. ... If the oily film breaks up when you stir it, it's probably due caused by an iron oxide mineral.

 
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I have the same problem.

In my case it's probably due to iron oxide because the water from some of my sources has a high iron content.
 
Todd Markey
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Unfortunately I don't know much about the history of this property or the area.  I'll contact the previous owner and see what I can find out.  
 
Todd Markey
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I'm in north Georgia (the US State, not the former soviet "republic").  The sheen is pretty much everywhere there is standing water.
 
pollinator
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It's very common in water with decomposing vegetation in, nothing to worry about at all.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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A hydrocarbon sheen usually has a "rainbow" of colours. I'm not seeing that in the photo. Even if it was, a small amount of hydrocarbon isn't much of a concern IMO. Natural bacteria will take care of it. I would poke around with a shovel and see if more appears -- in the good ol' days, people were casual with oil changes, and would also toss used filters in ponds and sloughs to deter mosquitoes.

A sheen from plant decomposition is a new concept to me. Very interesting!

 
Todd Markey
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On a similar previous post on permies, someone suggested that I do a "stick test" where you pass a stick through the slick.  If it immediately closes up the way it was, then it is some oil/petroleum product.  But if it cracks and stays apart, it is iron oxide/bacteria.  My test was definitely the latter.  It cracked like dry desert ground and stayed apart.  I guess that's good news?  
 
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I have the same thing on a natural spring on my property, gotta clean the dead leaves and stuff out of it. on my place its 1/2 way up a small, 1000' mountain there was never any development or anything like it there. its just wild forest
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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I would say it's good news. Hydrocarbons don't act that way.
 
steward
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Todd Markey wrote:When water pools up on my new property, I see an oily surface in some parts.  Can that be natural, or does it necessarily mean that there is some contamination that I need to address?



I'll ditto what others have said, and I believe it appears to be microbial activity, or what can often be referred to as a microbial bloom. It is more common in ponds, but surface sheens can appear in short lived puddles too. I believe only a water analysis can correctly identify this sheen as a chemical/petroleum residue.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Another option: I think soaking up some sheen in a paper towel or thin, white cotton cloth and letting it dry would also indicate hydrocarbon residue quite clearly.
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