Water Resource Reporting and Water Footprint from Marcellus Shale Development in West Virginia and Pennsylvania Evan Hansen, Dustin Mulvaney, and Meghan Betcher


Water Resource Reporting and Water Footprint

from Marcellus Shale Development

in West Virginia and Pennsylvania

Evan Hansen, Dustin Mulvaney, and Meghan Betcher

Oct. 2013

Fracking Is Already Straining U.S. Water Supplies | ThinkProgress

Fracking Is Already Straining U.S. Water Supplies | ThinkProgress.

Shale Gas Review: Pa. eases water standard update after industry complaint Corbett’s DEP withdraws 4 pollutants from regulatory plan

Shale Gas Review: Pa. eases water standard update after industry complaint Corbett’s DEP withdraws 4 pollutants from regulatory plan.


White calls on state, federal authorities for investigation of DEP over deceptive Marcellus Shale water-quality testing practices

Testimony by DEP lab chief reveals possibility of intentionally undisclosed public health risks from Marcellus Shale gas drilling


HARRISBURG, Nov. 1 – State Rep. Jesse White, D-Allegheny/Beaver/Washington, today called for state and federal law enforcement agencies to investigate the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for alleged misconduct and fraud revealed by sworn testimony given by a high-ranking DEP official.

Is Dimock’s Water Really Safe? One Federal Health Agency Is Not So Sure | Kate Sinding’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

Is Dimock’s Water Really Safe? One Federal Health Agency Is Not So Sure | Kate Sinding’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC.


Susquehanna added to national water trail system | Press & Sun-Bulletin | pressconnects.com

Susquehanna added to national water trail system | Press & Sun-Bulletin | pressconnects.com.

Pacific Institute: Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction

Pacific Institute: Reports.

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction


fracking_cover_small.jpgHydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has generated growing controversy in the past few years. New research from the Pacific Institute finds the real issues around its impacts on water are shared by stakeholders from government to industry to environmental groups – and point to the need for better and more transparent information in order to clearly assess the key water-related risks and develop sound policies to minimize those risks.

Much of the public attention on hydraulic fracturing has centered on the use of chemicals in the fracturing fluids and the risk of groundwater contamination. But the new study finds that while chemical disclosure can be useful for tracking contamination, risks associated with fracking chemicals are not the only issues that must be addressed. The massive water requirements for fracking and the potential conflicts with other water needs, including for agriculture and for ecosystems, pose major challenges. Methane contamination of drinking water wells is also a concern according to some field studies, as are the serious challenges associated with storing, transporting, treating, and disposing of wastewater.

The report Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction is a detailed assessment and synthesis of existing research on fracking as well as the results of interviews with representatives from state and federal agencies, industry, academia, environmental groups, and community-based organizations from across the United States. Interviewees identified a broad set of social, economic, and environmental concerns, foremost among which are impacts of hydraulic fracturing on the availability and quality of water resources.

“Despite the diversity of viewpoints among the stakeholders interviewed, there was surprising agreement about the range of concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing. Among the most commonly cited were concerns about spills and leaks, wastewater management, and water withdrawals,” said Heather Cooley, co-director of the Pacific Institute Water Program. “In addition to concerns about impacts on water resources, social and economic concerns were identified as well, such as worker health and safety and community impacts associated with rapidly industrializing rural environments.”

Hydraulic fracturing refers to the process by which fluid is injected into wells under high pressure to create cracks and fissures in rock formations that improve the production of these wells. Energy analysts, including the Energy Information Administration (EIA), project that the United States will become increasingly reliant on natural gas, with production projected to increase by nearly 30% over the next 25 years.

The growth in natural gas production is driven by a dramatic increase in domestic shale gas production, and by 2021, the United States is projected to be a net exporter of natural gas ( U.S. EIA 2012). The rapid development of unconventional natural gas resources – such as shale – has been largely facilitated through the use of directional (horizontal) drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Hailed by some as a game-changer that promises increased energy independence, job creation, and lower energy prices, fracking has led others to call for a temporary moratorium or a complete ban due to concern over potential environmental, social, and public health impacts. The research finds that the lack of credible and comprehensive data and information is a major impediment to a robust analysis of the real concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing.

“Much of what has been written about the interaction of hydraulic fracturing and water resources is either industry or advocacy reports that have not been peer-reviewed, and the discourse around the issue to date has been marked by opinion and obfuscation,” said Cooley. “More and better research is needed to clearly assess the key water-related risks associated with hydraulic fracturing and develop sound policies to minimize those risks.”

Based in Oakland, California, the Pacific Institute is a nonpartisan research institute that works to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Through interdisciplinary research and partnering with stakeholders, the Institute produces solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity – in the West, nationally, and internationally. www.pacinst.org.

Download the full report.
Download the Executive Summary.
Download the press release.

PA Pre-Drilling Water Quality Maps

PA Pre-Drilling Water Quality Maps

ArcGIS Explorer Online.

Mechanics of site:   Upper left there’s three icons.  One is layers.  Tab one on, then wells with that result come on map, then hit bottom icon which gives  you the legend for that ‘layer’.  Or tab them all and get the legend for all of them but then the map doesn’t make sense, too many colors.    

dunno what the point is of right-hand icons. and yeah, where’s before and after?  and summary/findings, this must be written up I’ve not been to site yet.
Dear colleagues and friends,
It appears that there has been some serious and unfortunate mis-communication about the water quality maps that I sent yesterday.  Some important clarifications need to be made so that misinformation
or misleading interpretations of these maps do not continue to circulate.

First, and very important, clarification is that these maps in no way link groundwater problems with gas drilling. I sent an email correcting someone on this fact earlier today and  somehow that email
has now re-circulated with the wording changed to say “it does” show a link. IT DOES NOT SHOW A LINK! I want to repeat here for everyone to see and know what I said– these maps DO NOT show evidence of a link between groundwater problems and contamination by shale gas drilling.  Here’s how you know that– when you click on the dots for barium, chloride, or TDS you will notice that there is a Sample Date. That is important. Some of the samples with the highest concentrations have a Sample Date in the 1980’s. The majority of samples that are mapped are “pre-drilling.” That means this data shows concentrations of these constituents in water wells BEFORE shale gas wells were drilled in the immediate area. It is spelled out clearly in the title of the map, “NE Pennsylvania Pre-Drilling Water Quality.” Yes, the gas wells are displayed alongside the results, (which could lead one to think they are somehow associated with the water tests), but notice that the black dots have no information associated with them, such as date drilled or permitted or even the name of the facility, so we don’t know exactly what this information means and we cannot draw ANY conclusions about the relationship between the black dots (wells) and the water wells. Period.

The second point of clarification is that I do not work for Appalachia Consulting and did not collect any of this data. I was simply forwarding information that is now on their website that I hoped would be useful and interesting to others.I am to blame, perhaps, as I did not explicitly spell out what this data shows, and it is evident from emails I am receiving that there are serious misinterpretations and that there is not a clear understanding of what pre-drilling or baseline sampling means or how to read a map such as this. It is in everyone’s best interest to get educated on baseline water testing and what it means if you are looking to show a link between shale gas drilling and water contamination. You must have baseline water testing to prove such contamination.

And, that leads me to the third clarification, this pre-drilling data is extremely important to academic researchers, citizens, decision-makers, lawmakers, and anyone who has an interest in making sure that shale gas drilling does not contaminate groundwater or do harm, and that when it does there is enough evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that contamination has in fact occurred. Without pre-drilling, baseline data there will not be proof that contamination has occurred.  Jumping to conclusions about what these maps mean is putting this evidence in jeopardy.

And, fourth and finally, this is baseline data collected by a reputable, honest, and scientifically rigorous consulting firm and from private homeowners who have agreed to have their pre-drill testing data  displayed for informational purposes only. The consulting firm uses stringent chain of custody and quality assurance and quality control practices to ensure that their test results are indisputable. Please respect them both, the consulting firm and the homeowners. Is it interesting and important information? Yes. Is it useful for understanding how water wells could be impacted by drilling? Yes. Does it show that water wells are being impacted by drilling? Not yet.
Warmest regards,

Simona L. Perry, PhD
Research Scientist
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Science & Technology Studies
110 8th St.
Russell Sage Laboratory
Troy, New York 12180

Hydrofracking threatens Finger Lakes region | syracuse.com

Hydrofracking threatens Finger Lakes region | syracuse.com.


Hydrofracking threatens Finger Lakes region

Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 5:00 AM

To the Editor:

Finger Lakes Trust

The Finger Lakes are the lifeblood of Central and Western New York. They provide clean drinking water, magnificent vistas, outstanding habitat for fish and wildlife and unparalleled recreational opportunities. They also serve as an integral part of a flourishing wine industry and support agriculture and tourism sectors that generate more than $3 billion annually for our local economy.

Here in the Finger Lakes, we clearly must accelerate our efforts to grow a more robust and sustainable economy based on the region’s rich natural resources, strong academic institutions, diversified agricultural economy, thriving tourism sector, and the inherent strengths of our populace. However, given the current technology and practices, we believe the proposed widespread use of hydrofracturing and horizontal drilling for natural gas poses unacceptable risks to the future well-being of this region and its residents. The lure of near-term economic gain is substantially outweighed by the potential for long-term harm to the region’s land and water resources as well as its economic competitiveness.

Despite the development of a lengthy environmental impact statement, New York state has failed to adequately address critical concerns regarding shale gas exploitation that are vital to the future of our region:

Through its proposed regulatory framework, the state provides a higher level of protection for the watersheds that supply drinking water to New York City and Syracuse than it does to the Finger Lakes watersheds, despite the fact that each of the Finger Lakes serves as a public drinking water supply. While these two watersheds are indeed unfiltered drinking water supplies, leading experts are very concerned that conventional water treatment techniques currently applied on water from the Finger Lakes will not remove all harmful components found in the fracking fluids that are used today.

In the draft impact statement, the state fails to address the huge cumulative environmental impact of a process that is expected to involve the construction of thousands of gas wells, thousands of miles of access roads and pipelines and other associated infrastructure.

The state also fails to address potential adverse impacts upon the region’s vital agriculture and tourism industries. A study incorporated into the impact statement simply states that the implementation of widespread gas drilling “could have a negative impact on some industries such as tourism and agriculture” and yet fails to provide any detailed analysis of potential impacts within the Finger Lakes region which could well be significant.

The draft impact statement fails to address threats to the region’s most significant land resource: sites recognized as priorities for conservation in New York State’s Open Space Conservation Plan, which is a public policy document based on nearly 30 years of input from community leaders, public officials and staff from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Until the state and the natural gas industry adequately address these issues, we oppose the use of hydrofracturing and horizontal drilling for natural gas exploitation within the watersheds of the Finger Lakes.

For more than 20 years, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has worked cooperatively with landowners, local communities and New York state to conserve nearly 13,000 acres of the region’s most cherished open space lands. The Land Trust is not typically involved in public advocacy. In this case, however, we feel compelled to speak out as the risks posed to the future of our region are simply too great.

We strongly encourage the state to fully address the serious concerns addressed above before allowing the use of hydro-
fracturing and horizontal gas drilling techniques, and to work with the federal government and the natural gas industry to develop extraction techniques that are compatible with conservation of the region’s natural resources and its natural resource-based economies.

Andrew Zepp is executive director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust, based in Ithaca. W. Stuart Schweitzer is president of the board of directors.