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.
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.
New USGS Report Describes Processes and Misconceptions Concerning the Effects of Groundwater Pumping on Streamflow
Groundwater provides drinking water for millions of Americans and is the primary source of water to irrigate cropland in many of the nations most productive agricultural settings. Although the benefits of groundwater development are many, groundwater pumping can reduce the flow of water in connected streams and rivers—a process called streamflow depletion by wells. The USGS has released a new report that summarizes the body of knowledge on streamflow depletion, highlights common misconceptions, and presents new concepts to help water managers and others understand the effects of groundwater pumping on surface water.
“Groundwater discharge is a critical part of flow in most streams–and the more we pump below the ground, the more we deplete water flowing down the stream,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “When viewed over the long term, it is one big zero-sum game.”
Groundwater and surface-water systems are connected, and groundwater discharge is often a substantial component of the total flow of a stream. In many areas of the country, pumping wells capture groundwater that would otherwise discharge to connected streams, rivers, and other surface-water bodies. Groundwater pumping can also draw streamflow into connected aquifers where pumping rates are relatively large or where the locations of pumping are relatively close to a stream.
“Streamflow depletion caused by pumping is an important water-resource management issue across the nation because of the adverse effects that reduced flows can have on aquatic ecosystems, the availability of surface water, and the quality and aesthetic value of streams and rivers,” said Paul Barlow, USGS hydrologist and author on the report. “Managing the effects of streamflow depletion by wells is challenging, particularly because of the significant time delays that often occur between when pumping begins and when the effects of that pumping are realized in nearby streams. This report will help managers understand the many factors that control the timing, rates, and locations of streamflow depletion caused by pumping.”
Major conclusions from the report:
• Individual wells may have little effect on streamflow depletion, but small effects of many wells pumping within a basin can combine to produce substantial effects on streamflow and aquatic habitats.
• Basinwide groundwater development typically occurs over a period of several decades, and the resulting cumulative effects on streamflow depletion may not be fully realized for years.
• Streamflow depletion continues for some time after pumping stops because it takes time for a groundwater system to recover from the previous pumping stress. In some aquifers, maximum rates of streamflow depletion may occur long after pumping stops, and full recovery of the groundwater system may take decades to centuries.
• Streamflow depletion can affect water quality in the stream or in the aquifer. For example, in many areas, groundwater discharge cools stream temperatures in the summer and warms stream temperatures in the winter, providing a suitable year-round habitat for fish. Reductions in groundwater discharge to streams caused by pumping can degrade habitat by warming stream temperatures during the summer and cooling stream temperatures during the winter.
• The major factors that affect the timing of streamflow depletion are the distance from the well to the stream and the properties and geologic structure of the aquifer.
• Sustainable rates of groundwater pumping near streams do not depend on the rates at which groundwater systems are naturally replenished (or recharged), but on the total flow rates of the streams and the amount of reduced streamflow that a community or regulatory authority is willing to accept.
“Conjunctive management of groundwater and surface-water resources is critical in New Mexico, where our limited surface-water supplies can be impacted by new uses that are predominantly dependent on groundwater pumping,” said Mike Johnson, Chief of the Hydrology Bureau in the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer. “This new USGS publication consolidates our understanding of the connection between aquifers and streams and provides a clear, thorough and up-to-date explanation of the tools and techniques used to evaluate streamflow depletion by wells. This report will be very useful to New Mexico’s water managers in guiding technical analysis, dispelling common misconceptions, and explaining these complex concepts to decision makers and the public.”
The report, which is a product of the USGS Groundwater Resources Program, is titled “Streamflow Depletion by Wells—Understanding and Managing the Effects of Groundwater Pumping on Streamflow” and is available in print and online. [ http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1376/ ]
The Groundwater Resources Program provides objective scientific information and develops the interdisciplinary understanding necessary to assess and quantify the availability of the nation’s groundwater resources. The Program has been instrumental in documenting groundwater declines and in developing groundwater-flow models for use in sustainably managing withdrawals. The research and understanding developed through this program can provide water-resource managers with the tools and information needed to manage this important natural resource.
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
New Well Owners Booklet Answers Many Questions
When should you test your water? And what should you test it for?
WILKES-BARRE, PA—October 1, 2012—Brian Oram, a professional geologist and soil scientist and founder of B.F. Environmental Consultants, announced today that his firm is making available “The Pennsylvania Guide for Groundwater for Private Well Owners: What Do the Numbers Mean?” through the Water Research Center Portal at http://www.water-research.net/privatewellPA.htm
“The goal of this booklet is to help educate and inform citizens on issues related to water conservation, ensuring that private water supply systems produce safe drinking water for your family, protecting the long-term quality of our streams and drinking water sources, and helping you to understand the potential sources of pollution to our water resources,” Oram said.
The booklet provides general information explaining certified water testing, chain-of-custody, and drinking water regulations and standards. It provides information related to the health (primary standards) or aesthetic (secondary standards) concerns for each parameter and provides information on water quality parameters that do not specifically have a drinking water limit.
“This reference is a guide to understanding water quality that works by providing guidance on selecting water quality testing parameters for baseline testing from a citizen’s perspective and by serving as a tool to help interpret water quality data,” Oram added.
In some cases, the document provides guidance on what actions a homeowner may want to consider in light of test results.
The booklet is part of the effort to support the Citizens Groundwater and Surfacewater Database, a grassroots effort to track change in groundwater quality in Pennsylvania. To learn more about the Citizen Groundwater/ Surfacewater Database and other Grassroots Efforts or to schedule an outreach event, go to http://www.water-research.net.
About B.F. Environmental Consultants, Inc.
B.F. Environmental Consultants, based in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Poconos, has been providing professional geological, soils, hydrogeological, and environmental consulting services since 1985. The company specializes in the following areas: hydrogeological and wastewater evaluations for siting land-based wastewater disposal systems; soils consulting (soil scientists), environmental monitoring, overseeing the siting, exploration, and development of community/ commercial water supply sources; baseline water testing, conducting “certified baseline samplers training programs”, environmental training/ professional training courses, and other environmental services. For more information about B.F. Environmental Consultants, visit www.bfenvironmental.com and www.water-research.net.
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc is now offering affordable distance learning courses on alternative energy systems, natural gas development, petrochemical training, environmental science, soil science, health and safety OSHA, industrial training, and engineering management. This includes continuing education and PDH. In addition, our new online store offers access to information and products related to water harvesting, rain barrels, composting, water conservation, water quality monitoring, soil management, and much more.
Visit – our Website Today !
If your a training provider, please consider Joining My Training Network.
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS [ http://agsci.psu.edu/pawaterabstract ]
Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium
May 8, 2013
Penn State University, University Park, PA
Abstract Deadline is December 3, 2012
Abstracts can be submitted at: http://agsci.psu.edu/pawaterabstract
In celebration of National Drinking Water Week, Penn State Extension’s Master Well Owner Network and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection along with numerous other sponsors invite you to submit abstracts for the 2013 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium at Penn State University in University Park, PA. The Symposium theme: Emerging Issues in a Changing Landscape 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.
Abstracts will be accepted through December 3, 2012 for short presentations or posters on a wide variety of groundwater topics including:
• Groundwater processes
• Wellhead protection
• Water well studies
• Emerging contaminants
• Data availability
• Groundwater monitoring
• Aquifer studies
• Groundwater/surface water interactions
• Issues related to energy extraction
• Education and outreach
The conference planning committee will review all abstracts and notify authors of acceptance via email by December 14, 2012. The conference registration site and agenda will be available by February 1, 2013. Thanks to generous support from sponsors, we currently expect a nominal registration fee of approximately $25 to $30 for this symposium. We hope you can join us for this event showcasing Pennsylvania’s valuable groundwater resource!
By Elizabeth Skrapits (Staff Writer)
Published: May 11, 2012
DALLAS TWP. – The state Department of Environmental Protection is monitoring a series of drilling mud spills at a natural gas pipeline installation.
Chief Gathering LLC, recently bought out by PVR Partners, hired contractors to install a pipeline to connect natural gas wells in Susquehanna County to the Transco interstate pipeline in Dallas Township.
Since May 1, there have been five spills of more than 6,000 gallons of water containing bentonite, a type of clay used in drilling operations, at two different Dallas Township sites: Leonards Creek on Kunkle Road and Upper Demunds Road and Goodleigh Road, outside Goodleigh Estates, according to a report from DEP. On Thursday, crews sucked up the mud at the Upper Demunds Road site using vacuum trucks.
Chief’s Vice President of Industry Affairs Kristi Gittins said releases of mud at pipeline boring sites are not uncommon and “we plan for them and we deal with them.” No chemicals or additives were used, she said.
DEP has been to the site and approved remediation plans, Gittins said. She said Chief is providing information to DEP and the agency does regular follow-up visits.
The DEP report shows five “inadvertent return to surface” incidents involving drilling mud with bentonite coming up from the ground at two horizontal drilling sites.
The first occurred at 8:30 a.m. May 1, with 50 gallons of mud released at a wetlands next to Leonards Creek on Kunkle Road. It was contained at the site. The next day at the same site 20 gallons escaped containment but did not impact the creek. Then again on May 2, 200 gallons overflowed at the site. It was also cleaned up, DEP reported.
In the fourth incident, on Monday, about 1,000 gallons of bentonite was spilled and drilling mud was discovered coming from an old springhouse between Kunkle Road and Leonards Creek. Not all the bentonite was contained at the time, and DEP reported the creek was cloudy. By Thursday, most of the bentonite was cleaned up.
The fifth incident occurred Saturday, when 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of bentonite was lost in wetlands about 200 feet off Upper Demunds Road, according to DEP. The drilling mud was contained on the site with hay bales and is being removed by a vacuum truck.
The Upper Demunds Road spill occurred outside an upscale development where the pipeline installation created controversy.
Several Goodleigh Estates residents sued their neighbors for leasing Chief a right-of-way, asking Luzerne County court to stop the pipeline construction on the grounds it violated the development’s covenants and would create a nuisance.
Chief was not named in the suit, but the company sued the residents, claiming their efforts to delay the pipeline could cost the company from $683,000 to $18 million or more. Chief also asked them to pay damages for making “defamatory and malicious” statements about the company in local media and on Facebook.
Chief and the residents came to an agreement in November that dismissed the suits.
Under the undisclosed terms of the agreement, the residents are prohibited from commenting about Chief.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Just after Pennsylvanians dried off from one of the wettest years on record, professional weather-watchers are becoming concerned about a potential drought in the central and eastern parts of the state.
The state’s Drought Task Force, which includes representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and other government agencies, will meet April 25 to discuss the effects of a winter with little snowfall and a drier-than-usual spring, officials said Tuesday.
It remains to be seen whether that leads to the DEP declaring a drought watch encouraging residents in certain areas to conserve water, as Maryland officials did last week for most of the Eastern Shore.
“At this point we’re not taking any action,” said Ruth Miller of PEMA, which helped direct relief efforts during last year’s historic flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which killed 18 people and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
Now, in contrast to those back-to-back disasters in August and September, the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers are flowing at record low rates for this time of year.
Susan Weaver, a DEP official who serves as the state drought coordinator, said officials assess data on precipitation, surface water, ground water and soil moisture in 90-day increments before deciding whether to issue a drought watch or a more emphatic drought warning.
“The tough part is what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Weaver said.
In August, “we issued a drought watch and I swear to God the next day it started to rain and it didn’t stop,” she said.
On Tuesday, the Susquehanna was flowing at around 14,000 cubic feet per second — less than 20 percent of its normal rate and the slowest flow since 1910, said hydrologist Charles Ross at the weather service office in State College. The average depth was barely half the normal seven feet, he said.
Still, “all it’s going to take is some average rain and we’ll probably be in pretty good shape,” Ross said.
The situation was similar on the Delaware, where the flow in Trenton, N.J., was measured at less than 4,000 cubic feet per second — the lowest for that date in the 98 years it has been measured.
“We’ve actually been setting records for a week or so,” said Clarke Rupert, spokesman for the Delaware River Basin Commission.
Susan Obleski, spokeswoman for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, said dry conditions along streams that feed the river have led the commission to temporarily suspend permits that allow some natural gas drilling companies to use that water. So far, 14 permits held by eight companies have been suspended.
“They have multiple sources (of water), so it doesn’t mean that (a) particular company would shut down,” she said.
Penn State Extension will be offering several training workshops for new Master Well Owner Volunteers in 2012. The six week online course will begin on February 6, 2012. Two Saturday training workshops will also be offered this spring in McKean and Butler Counties. More details on these training workshops, including a link to the online application, are provided below.
Upcoming Training Opportunities for New Master Well Owner Volunteers 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 been trained in 64 counties throughout Pennsylvania. These volunteers have, in turn, educated tens of thousands of private water system owners across the state.
In 2012, persons interested in becoming a trained Master Well Owner volunteer will have three opportunities.
1) Online MWON volunteer training will occur between February 6, 2012 and March 19, 2012. Volunteers in the online training receive weekly emails containing links to relevant reading in the MWON handbook (A Guide to Private Water Systems in Pennsylvania), a 45-minute video presentation for each chapter, and a short online exam. Participants in online training will largely be able to determine their own training schedule. Volunteers with questions can attend one optional live online meeting at the end of the course. Participants must score a cumulative 70% on all of the online exams to be certified as a MWON volunteer. Registration for the onilne course is limited to 25 participants. More information on the online course is available at:
2) A standard, Saturday MWON volunteer training workshop will be offered in Butler County (location TBA) on March 24, 2012 from 9 AM until 3:30 PM. Participants will hear presentations from Penn State water specialists, well drillers and other experts. As with the online course, volunteers at the Saturday workshops must score at least 70% on a final exam to be certified.
3) Another standard, Saturday MWON volunteer training workshop will be offered in Smethport, PA (McKean County) on April 21, 2012 from 9 AM to 3:30 PM.
Volunteers who successfully complete any of these training courses and pass the exam(s) 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.
Prospective volunteers need to submit an application and be accepted into the program. Applications for the online course will only be accepted through January 31, 2012. Applications for the Saturday workshops will be accepted up to one week before the workshop. To be eligible for any MWON training, applicants must not be affiliated with any business that works directly with private water system owners such as employees of water well drilling companies, water testing laboratories or water treatment businesses.
To learn more and the Master Well Owner Network, visit
To complete an application to participate in one of the MWON volunteer trainings listed above, visit
Water Resources Extension Specialist
Penn State Extension
By Karl Blankenship
Loss could heavily impact wildlife habitat, state’s ability to meet TMDL goal
During the coming two decades, Pennsylvania could lose enough forest land to build a couple of large cities. The forest won’t be lost in a single large chunk, but as thousands of small sites that are cleared to drill natural gas wells and connected with hundreds of miles of new pipelines.
While those impacts will be scattered across the landscape, their cumulative impact on forest habitats could be severe, and it could also complicate the state’s efforts to meet its nutrient and sediment reduction obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or pollution diet.
“It’s not so much that people know it would keep the TMDL from being met,” said Nels Johnson, director of conservation programs with The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania. “It’s that no one knows whether or not this really threatens the state’s efforts to meet the TMDL.”
Much of the concern about environmental impacts related to the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom has been related to the water quality impacts of hydraulic fracking, the process of injecting huge amounts of water and chemicals under high pressure deep into the ground to break apart rock and access gas.
Johnson led a team that tackled a different question – how the drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation could affect land use and, ultimately, wildlife habitats in Pennsylvania.
By using information about the depth and thickness of the Marcellus formation in different areas and a variety of other variables, they developed a model to project where the 60,000 wells expected to be drilled in the next two decades will go.
The analysis projects that about 60 percent of the wells will be drilled on forest land – the dominant land cover over much of the Marcellus Shale in the state.
A key factor that affects how much forest will be directly affected by drilling is the number of wells drilled on each drilling pad. A typical pad is about 3 acres but requires about six additional acres for roads and other related infrastructure. Right now, the average is less than two wells per pad, Johnson said, but he expects that to increase to between 4 and 10 wells per pad over time.
While scattered pads may not seem to have great impact, the analysis estimates that, across Pennsylvania, 38,000-90,000 acres of forest may ultimately be cleared for wells seeking to tap the Marcellus Shale formation, which underlies the western and northern portions of the state. Another 60,000-150,000 acres of forest could be lost for new pipelines.
“It’s a cumulative impact,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, that’s why we did this – because we wanted to have a better understanding of the cumulative impact, and how worried we should be about this.”
Pennsylvania’s large tracts of intact forests are important for an array of wildlife, from brook trout to forest interior birds. Forest birds such as the scarlet tanager, which have declined in many areas, have generally held their own in Pennsylvania’s large forests.
That could change as forests are chopped up for wells and pipelines. Many predators, from blue jays to raccoons, thrive along forest edges, from which they forage into the woods, picking off birds or the eggs of wood thrush, ovenbirds and other species that normally rely on large forests for refuge. Not only will forests be directly lost to drill pads and pipelines, but forests near those opening will be rendered uninhabitable for many species.
But the analysis also raises a concern for Chesapeake cleanup efforts. The conservancy estimates that about 46 percent of the drilling would take place within the Bay watershed. That suggests the forest loss within the watershed portion of Pennsylvania could be between 45,000-110,000 acres.
For comparison, that’s enough land to build between 1 to 2.5 District of Columbias.
Because forests absorb more nutrients and retain more sediment than other land uses, their loss could result in more of those pollutants reaching local streams.
Assuming those forests are converted to meadow, and applying loading rates derived from the Bay Program model, rough estimates suggest it could increase the amount of nitrogen runoff reaching local streams between 30,000-80,000 pounds a year; while phosphorus could increase between 15,000-40,000 pounds; and sediment could increase between 18 million to 45 million pounds. The variation depends on whether the amount of forest lost was at the low, or high end of the conservancy’s estimates.
Right now, the land use changes are not included in the state’s watershed implementation plan, which shows how it plans to meet nutrient and sediment limits set in the TMDL.
Kevin Sunday, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said sediment and erosion control guidelines would require best management practices to control runoff and well sites would need to be re-vegetated.
Johnson said that, as a practical matter, it is difficult to reforest areas disturbed for drilling as companies need to maintain access to wells and pipelines. Further, a recent study showed that reforestation generally wasn’t taking place at drilling sites, he said.
Katherine Antos, water quality team leader with the EPA’s Bay Program Office in Annapolis, said state pollution limits set in the TMDL were based on land uses in place in 2010. “If there are any changes to that, any increased loads or new sources, states have to be able to offset those increases,” she said.
Antos said the EPA is currently reviewing offset programs for all states in the watershed.
Harry Campbell, a scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said concerns about the impacts related to drilling activities on the Bay TMDL were among the reasons that it and several other organizations petitioned the federal government last year seeking the development of an Environmental Impact Statement to examine the full range of Marcellus drilling impacts in the state.
“We just don’t know enough about all this to get a handle on what the potential impacts are,” he said. “If we don’t have that, then we are flying blind.”
That petition is still pending.
Meanwhile, Johnson said the conservancy has been using its analyses to work with drilling companies to encourage drilling more wells at existing pads to reduce forest loss. It’s also integrating more habitat data into its model to help steer drilling away from sensitive areas. Companies have been “pretty interested,” he said. “We’re pretty confident it is going to help, but we know it is not going to eliminate impacts.”
By Cliff White firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: Dec 11, 2011
It’s an old story by now in Pennsylvania: local residents upset about a Marcellus Shale-related well proposed in their back yard.
But there’s a difference in the well planned for Brady Township, Clearfield County. Instead of taking gas out of the ground, the well is intended to store fracking wastewater deep in the folds of the earth. Neighbors are up in arms, but the debate marks a new step in the evolution of the Marcellus Shale play.
“Injection of flowback fluids or fluids from the production process has been a common procedure for a long, long time, but it’s still relatively rare in Pennsylvania,” said Tom Murphy, co-director of the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research. < http://marcellus.psu.edu/ >
Flowback water is a briny, silty and potentially toxic cocktail created as a byproduct of the hydraulic fracturing process, when millions of gallons of water are pumped at high pressure into a gas well to create fractures in rock formations, thereby releasing trapped gas. Environmental regulations require drillers to capture and dispose of wastewater that commonly flows back out of the gas well when it is fracked.