UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Investigations into natural gas from shale development migrating into groundwater will be the focus of a free, Web-based seminar offered by Penn State Extension.
To be presented at 1 p.m. on March 21, “A Geochemical Context for Stray Gas Investigations in the Northern Appalachian Basin,” is part of a monthly series of one-hour webinars.
According to presenter Fred Baldassare, senior geoscientist with ECHELON Applied Geoscience Consulting, as shale gas exploration and development has increased over the past five years, stray gas migration in groundwater has become a hot topic. He will discuss the various sources of methane and the need to review each case individually to determine its origin.
“The occurrence of methane in aquifer systems represents a natural condition in many areas of the Appalachian Basin,” he said. “The origin can be the result of microbial and thermogenic processes that convert organic matter in the aquifer strata to methane, and to lower concentrations of ethane and heavier hydrocarbons in some areas of the basin.
“Or it can result from the progressive migration of hydrocarbon gas over geologic time from the source and/or reservoir to the aquifer.”
But in some instances, Baldassare pointed out, the stray gas that occurs in the aquifer and manifests in private water supplies can be the result of gas-well drilling.
“That happens where pressure combines with ineffective casing cement bonds to create pathways,” he said. “Alleged incidents of stray gas migration must be investigated at the site-specific level and must include isotope geochemistry to determine gas origin and diagnostic evidence to determine a mechanism of migration.”
Presented by Penn State Extension’s Marcellus Education Team, the monthly natural-gas webinars usually are offered from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays. Upcoming webinars will cover the following topics:
–April 24: Utica Reservoirs — Mike Arthur, Penn State professor of geosciences and co-director of the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.
–May 16: Shale Energy Development’s Effect on the Posting, Bonding and Maintenance of Roads in Rural Pennsylvania — Mark Gaines, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Bureau of Maintenance, Operations and Roadway Management, and Tim Ziegler, Penn State Larson Transportation Institute, Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies.
–June 20: Royalty Calculations for Natural Gas from Shale — Jim Ladlee, associate director, Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.
Previous webinars, publications and information also are available on the Penn State Extension natural-gas website (http://extension.psu.edu/naturalgas), covering a variety of topics, such as Act 13; seismic testing; air pollution from gas development; water use and quality; zoning; gas-leasing considerations for landowners; gas pipelines and right-of-way issues; legal issues surrounding gas development; and the impact of Marcellus gas development on forestland.
Registration for this webinar is not necessary, and all are welcome to participate by logging in to https://meeting.psu.edu/pscems . For more information, contact Carol Loveland at 570-320-4429 or by email at email@example.com .
< http://news.psu.edu/story/267750/2013/03/08/webinar-examine-stray-shale-gas-migration-groundwater >
Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
One Bad Bug
By Kelly A. Reynolds, MSPH, PhD , Associate Professor at the University of Arizona College of Public Health
The emergence and increased prevalence of the ‘superbug’ bacterium known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), has raised questions as to the routes of transmission related to disease. Reports of MRSA infections in the general population and evidence of the bacteria surviving in wastewater, tap water and drinking water biofilms creates alarm in the public and warrants a discussion of whether or not MRSA infections occur from tapwater exposures.
Read more (pdf)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — While many people recognize that clean water and air are signs of a healthy ecosystem, most do not realize that a critical part of the environment is right beneath their feet, according to a Penn State hydrologist.
The ground plays an important role in maintaining a clean environment by serving as a natural water filtration and purification system, said Henry Lin, professor of hydropedology and soil hydrology. Understanding the components that make up this integral part of the ecosystem can lead to better groundwater management and smarter environmental policy.
“We look at nature and we see all the beauty and all the prosperity around us,” said Lin, “But most people don’t know or tend to forget that the key to sustainability is right underground.”
Lin, who reports on his research today (Feb. 17) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, said that the earth’s outer layer — from the top vegetation canopy to the strata of soils and layers of underground material — helps soak up and purify water by extracting excess nutrients, heavy metals and other impurities. The ground can also act as a storage container for freshwater.
About 60 percent of the world’s annual precipitation ends up in this zone, Lin said.
“In fact, there is more water under the ground than there is in the so-called ‘blue waters,’ such as lakes and rivers,” said Lin.
Besides using freshwater for drinking, people use large amounts of water to irrigate agricultural fields and as part of industrial operations. The researcher said that just as a global green revolution raised awareness about food security, a “blue revolution” may lead to efforts to water security with clean, safe water supply around the globe.
“Without water there is no life,” Lin said. “Without groundwater, there is no clean water.”
Lin said that the system is currently under threat from poor land management practices that fail to consider how ground water is affected by land uses, such as new building projects, underground storage and agricultural operations. Planners should consider, for example, how the ground and plants in an area can affect water run-off. In some cases, not taking the ground and underground features of an area into consideration can lead to flooding, or to the addition of impurities into drinking water supplies.
Besides reaching out to managers and planners, Lin said that the general public also must become more aware of groundwater management issues.
“In a lot of cases, for the general public and even people from government agencies and funding agencies, it’s out of sight, out of mind,” Lin said. “But, beneath the surface lies the foundation of our sustainability.”
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In observance of National Drinking Water Week, Penn State Extension and the state Department of Environmental Protection are collaborating with numerous other sponsors to offer the 2013 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium.
Scheduled for May 8 at Penn State’s University Park campus, registration for the event now is open at this website and is limited to the first 150 registrants.
“Emerging Issues in a Changing Landscape” is the theme of the symposium, which will provide a forum for researchers, students, professionals and educators working in the groundwater field to exchange information and promote protection of groundwater resources throughout the state.
“Millions of Pennsylvanians rely on groundwater for their drinking water,” said symposium coordinator Bryan Swistock, extension water resources specialist. “National Drinking Water Week provides the perfect opportunity for us to convene a symposium of groundwater experts who can share information to better understand and protect this vital natural resource.”
Morning and afternoon keynote speakers will address important water issues in Pennsylvania, including emerging contaminants and the potential impacts of natural-gas development.
The symposium also will feature several concurrent sessions with presentations on groundwater budgets and yields, tools for describing groundwater during natural-gas exploration, and broader studies characterizing groundwater and water wells.
A lengthy afternoon break and poster session will allow attendees to network while viewing numerous poster presentations. Abstracts for additional poster presentations will be accepted through April 3 on the registration website.
A nominal registration fee of $30 for the symposium is made possible by funding support from Penn State Extension and its Master Well Owner Network, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Mid-Atlantic Water Program, the Pennsylvania Ground Water Association and the Penn State Water Resources Research Center.
Additional partnering agencies include the U.S. Geological Survey and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.
For more information, contact Swistock at 814-863-0194 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, January 25, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Pennsylvanians can express their opinions about the state’s water resources by filling out a brief online survey conducted by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and several partner agencies.
Researchers are interested in learning what residents believe about the current status of the Keystone State’s water and how they think funding and other resources should be prioritized to best protect and manage water resources.
The objective is to collect opinions from thousands of Pennsylvania residents, according to Bryan Swistock, Penn State Extension water resources specialist, who is coordinating the research.
He noted that the informal survey is intended as a public engagement project and does not necessarily represent a statistical sampling of opinions.
The five-minute survey can be completed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PaWater.
“This is your chance to be heard on the value and importance of water resources in Pennsylvania,” Swistock said. “We really need to learn more about what water resources issues are most important to the people of Pennsylvania so we can provide this information to both policymakers and those who fund water resources research.”
The survey, which will close Feb. 28, is open to Pennsylvania residents who are at least 18 years of age. A summary of results will be published this spring on the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center website, http://www.pawatercenter.psu.edu.
This survey is funded by the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center and Sea Grant Pennsylvania in partnership with Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania American Water Resources Association.
The Private Well Class is a free online service, grant-funded to educate homeowners about their private wells.
The Rural Community Assistance Partnership has received a grant from the USEPA to develop a free, online class for homeowners with private wells. We ask that you help promote the class with well owners and those that serve them in your region. If your organization has little contact with private well owners, please feel free to pass this information along to others who might be interested.
The class is set up to be self-help over 10 weeks, with materials emailed once a week to participants. Well owners can sign up anytime, and though the first week was sent on Jan 2, 2013, anyone signing up after that will start as soon as they sign up. So, someone just finding out about this in April can sign up and start the class then. There are three webinars that will provide well owners a chance to reinforce what they are seeing in the class material and ask questions of the presenters. Each webinar will be repeated every three months through August 2013, so no matter when someone starts the class, they will be able to see all three at least once.
Please take a look at the materials attached, visit the website [ http://www.privatewellclass.org/ ] and we encourage you to sign up as a partner. Partners will receive an email when a new webinar date is announced, or when additional information is added to the website. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Extension is offering environmentally minded Pennsylvania adults the chance to share their interests with young people in their community.
Extension is seeking volunteers for its 4-H Stream Teams program, which guides youths in learning about local water resources and encourages them to become water stewards and involved citizens, now and in the future.
A four-part, Web-based training series for prospective 4-H Stream Teams adult volunteers will begin Jan. 29. Each live, one-hour webinar will be offered at noon and repeated at 7 p.m.:
– Jan. 29, Part 1: What is a 4-H Stream Team?
– Jan. 31, Part 2: Teaching Hands-On Water Education
– Feb. 5, Part 3: Connecting Youth to Local Water Resources
– Feb. 7, Part 4: Leading Youth in Water-Based Service Projects
This free training is open to anyone who already works with youth — such as 4-H volunteers, Scout leaders, camp directors or classroom teachers — and to any adult looking for an opportunity to share their interest in the environment with youth. 4-H programs also provide important leadership, citizenship and life skills that will benefit youth throughout their lives.
Registration for the training is required and can be completed at http://psu.ag/S5rX90. For more information, contact Jennifer Fetter at 4HWater@psu.edu or 717-921-8803, or visit http://ecosystems.psu.edu/youth/4-h-stream-teams-information.
Note – Have a Water Quality Questions - Ask Us
Bryan Swistock [ email@example.com ]
MWON is taking applications for our winter online course which will start on February 11, 2013. Space is limited to 20 new volunteers
Applications Being Accepted for Next Master Well Owner Course
Pennsylvania is home to over one million private water wells and springs but it is one of the few states that do not provide statewide regulations to protect these rural drinking water supplies. In 2004, Penn State Cooperative Extension and several partner agencies created the Master Well Owner Network (MWON), a group of trained volunteers who are dedicated to promoting the proper construction, testing, and maintenance of private water wells, springs and cisterns throughout Pennsylvania. Since its inception, hundreds of MWON volunteers have attended Saturday training workshops to learn about proper water supply management practices. Starting on February 11, 2013, this same training will be available entirely online.
Prospective volunteers need to submit an application and be accepted into the program. Applications will be limited to about 15 eligible volunteers. Once accepted, each volunteer will receive seven weekly emails with links to short reading assignments and video presentations. Participants in online training will largely be able to determine their own training schedule. One optional online meeting will be offered in March to help answer questions (attendance at this optional meeting this will require a computer with high speed connection and speakers).
Volunteers who successfully complete the training course and pass a short exam will receive a free copy of the 80 page publication – A Guide to Private Water Systems in Pennsylvania, a coupon good for a 10% discount on water testing through the Penn State water testing lab, and access to various MWON educational materials. In return, MWON volunteers are asked to pass along what they have learned to other private water supply owners and submit an annual report of their educational accomplishments. To learn more and complete an application, visit the following website: http://extension.psu.edu/water/mwon/volunteer/online-mwon-volunteer-training
Here are a few comments from volunteers who recently completed the online course:
• I believe people buying homes or properties with wells located on them should have this information prior to purchase. The problem is not many people are aware of the information that is available. Hopefully this course helps correct the problem.
• Excellent opportunity, especially in light of the drilling operations surrounding Marcellus well development activities throughout the state and in the area where I live.
• Very Useful information. The presentation format via adobe connect was very easy to work with.
New Booklet – PA Guide To Drinking Water – What Do the Numbers Mean?
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
By JACOB SEIBEL TN Correspondent firstname.lastname@example.org
Unpermitted sewer lines that discharge untreated sewage, known as wildcat sewers, have officially delayed the nearly decade-long Act 537 project for West Penn Township and Walker Township.
With the plan supposed to be finished by the end of December before what supervisors hoped to be the start of the implementation process of fixing defective sewers in the township, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has called for further investigation into the wildcat sewers.
Although an investigation of the wildcats was unavoidable, West Penn Township Solicitor Gretchen Sterns and Township Engineer Ronald B. Madison, PE hoped that it could be done while the project was being worked on. They said there is no sense to delay the project to investigate a problem that they already know is there.
“I find that it is unbelievable, quite frankly,” Sterns said at last evening’s supervisor meeting, “that DEP showed great concern that there are areas where these wildcat sewers are where you literally have black water is coming out, causing a huge pollution concern, but their response is not to fix it. Their response is lets study it some more. I’m appalled, frankly, by that result.”
“Unfortunately, it’s more time and more expense,” Madison said.
The estimated cost for West Penn and Walker Township since the planning phase of Act 537 began in 2003 up this point has been $356,107.
A West Penn Township board of supervisors reorganization meeting will be Monday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. in the municipal building.
By Laura Legere (staff writer)
Published: November 25, 2012
DIMOCK TWP. – Everywhere Tim Ziegler travels dirt tracks and gravel roads in rural Pennsylvania, he sees an insidious threat of pollution beneath his tires.
Sediment is the largest pollutant by volume in the commonwealth’s streams, degrading water quality, smothering natural vegetation and destroying fish habitat.
Worn dirt roads and their ditches are a potent source of grit and Pennsylvania has more than 20,000 miles of them.
Ziegler has driven many of those stretches, spreading the gospel of drainage. He works for the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies at Penn State University, which helps townships, companies and other agencies build and maintain unpaved roads in an environmentally protective way. Its toll-free number is 1-866-NO-TO-MUD.
The highest density of dirt roads in the state coincides with the richest spots for Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and Ziegler’s work in recent years has focused on that intersection.
Shale development presents both a challenge and an opportunity for rural road infrastructure: Heavy haulers rut the roads, but posted and bonded thoroughfares have to be returned to their prior condition and companies routinely strengthen the roads before they run trucks on them or improve them beyond their previous state.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition calculated that its member companies spent more than $411 million on road construction in Pennsylvania between 2008 and the middle of 2011.
The problem, Ziegler said, is that much of the companies’ attention and money has been spent reinforcing the roads’ surface while leaving the old drainage infrastructure in place. The hardened, widened roads increase the amount of runoff during rainstorms, exacerbating existing sediment pollution pathways and adding to the likelihood and severity of flash flooding in nearby streams.
“There’s an opportunity that we’re losing here,” he said.
During a recent field trip to a reinforced stretch of road in Susquehanna County, he demonstrated that roads built without protective drainage in mind are also less likely to last.
Like many Pennsylvania gravel roads renovated to withstand thousands of drilling-related truck trips, Hunter Road in Dimmock Township is not strictly gravel anymore. The surface has been solidified with cement.
But the improvements constructed in 2010 are already starting to show wear. A jagged rut snakes under one tire track, a washed-out pile of the new road material threatens to clog a stream pipe that steers a small tributary under the road, and the rush of stormwater where one ditch intercepts another has undermined the road base, leaving the concrete jutting a foot or more over open air.
At the valley intersection of three steep roads, more than a mile of road surface plus half of a gas well pad drains to one small stream.
That system, and its impacts, are only associated with one pad among the thousands built or planned in the state, Ziegler said.
“We’ve got to look at how we’re going to handle this with such an intensive, widespread development across the rural landscape.”
Many solutions are known and affordable, especially for companies already investing in road-repair projects.
Roads should be constructed with several drainage cross pipes and diversion points to interrupt sheets of water and disperse the flow in a way that more closely mimics nature, he said.
Together, the improvements “cut one big watershed” – the uninterrupted ditch – “into lots of little watersheds.”
The center has cooperated with several companies, including Range Resources, Enerplus and Carrizo Oil and Gas among others, to offer tips and suggestions on proper drainage infrastructure.
But Ziegler looks at the effort and money invested in already-cracking Hunter Road and sees much room for improvement.
“It’s just a matter of looking at things a little differently,” he said.