Cortland Considers Ordinance to Protect Public Water Supply

Oldies 101.5 – Local News.

Cortland Considers Ordinance to Protect Public Water Supply

Last Edited: 2011-08-17 10:52:12    Story ID: 4147

In an effort to protect its water supply the City of Cortland is considering a wellhead protection ordinance that would ban or restrict certain activities within proximity to the City’s water wells.

Last night the City council got its first look at the proposed well head protection ordinance. The proposal calls for new zoning laws to be adopted to further restrict and monitor development and other activities near the City water supply.

According to Pat Reidy a water quality specialist with the County Soil and Water department, the proposed legislation is modeled after a similar program that was adopted in Cortlandville; it maps out the most critical areas in the water supply and looks to prevent pollution from impacting those areas.

Reidy says while Cortlandville has adopted regulations that protect a portion of the water supply that feeds the City wells, water does not know municipal boundaries and the City would do well adopt its own regulations.

The new rules would not significantly impact development in the City as most of the are that would fall into the new well head protection zone is in established neighborhoods, however a large portion of Suny Cortland’s campus would fall into the new zone including Davis Field where the college has proposed to construct a 52 million dollar Student Life center. The site is directly adjacent to the City water wells.

The City will hold a public hearing on the proposed law on September 6th.

Cortland Co. Landfill Developments

Cortland Landfill

  • Cortland Standard editorial on Landfill options   May 26, 2011Text

  • Cortland Standard coverage on CC Legislature Ensol   Contract.  May 27, 2011  Text 1     Text 2

  • Cortland Standard Lawmakers at offs over landfill profitability.  May 20, 2011 Text 1     Text 2

EPA Document on Tully, Homer, Cortland Sole Source Aquifer

More on Landfill Developments

Cortland Homer Preble Sole-Source Aquifer System

Water | Region 2 | US EPA.

Cortland Homer Preble Sole-Source Aquifer System

Support Document

  Cortland and Onondaga Counties New York

June 1988

I. Introduction

A. Statement of Section 1424 (e)

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Public Law 93-523, of December 16, 1974 contains a provision in Section 1424(e), which states that:

If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated, would create significant hazard to public health, he shall publish notice of that determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of any such notice, no commitment for Federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may be entered into for any project which the Administrator determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.

This section allows for the specific designation of areas which are dependent upon ground water supplies. Following designation, the review process will ensure that federal agencies will not commit funds toward projects which may contaminate these ground water supplies.

B. Receipt of Petition

On September 15, 1987 the Cortland County Legislature petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator to declare the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System, as defined in the petition (Appendix A), a sole source aquifer (SSA) under the provisions of the SDWA.

C. Area of Consideration

The boundary of the area specified in the petition submitted by the Cortland County Legislature was defined as portions of five valleys that meet in the vicinity of the City of Cortland. The entire petitioned area is within Cortland County, New York. However, based on EPA’s review of the hydrogeologic information, the final SSA designation area has been extended into Onondaga County. The Agency has amended the area for designation because the aquifer extends into Onondaga County. It has beenAgency policy to designate sole source aquifers based on hydrogeologic criteria rather than political boundaries whenever possible, because contamination of a portion of the aquifer can affect the down gradient portion of the aquifer.

D. Topography

The Cortland-Homer-Preble area is located within the Allegheny Plateaus Province of central New York State (Miller, 1982). Altitudes range from approximately 1,100 to 2,000 feet above sea level.

The entire area was affected by the Wisconsin Stage glaciation (Buller, 1978), ending approximately ten-thousand years (10,000 yrs.) ago (Muller, 1965). The glaciers altered the existing topography and surface water drainage patterns. The resulting terrain consists of relatively flat, sedimentfilled valleys bounded by tillmantled bedrock hills that rise up to nine-hundred (900) feet above the valley floors (Buller, 1978; Miller, 1982).

E. Climate

Precipitation in the Cortland-Homer-Preble area averages approximately forty inches (40″) per year (Buller, 1978), evenly distributed throughout the year (McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1982). Winters are harsh, with an average temperature of approximately twenty-four degrees degrees Fahrenheit (McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1982) and average snowfall of sixty inches (60″) (Buller, 1978). Temperatures in summer average approximately sixty-six degrees Fahrenheit (McFarland Johnson Engineers, Inc., 1982).

II. Hydrogeology

A. Geologic Framework

The bedrock of the Cortland-Homer-Preble area is predominantly shale, with minor siltstone and fine grained sandstone (Corner and Harsh, 1978; Miller, 1982). These rocks are part of the Genesee Group (Reynolds, 1985) and are Upper Devonian in age (Buller, 1978). The beds are nearly flatlying, with a less than one degree to the southsouthwest ( 1978).

Depth to bedrock ranges from zero to five-hundred feet (0-500′) below the land surface (Corner and Harsh, 1978; Miller, 1982). The bedrock is nearest the surface in the hills and deepest in the valleys. When exposed at the surface, the shale is weathered and jointed (Corner and Harsh, 1978). Joints and bedding planes provide the only storage areas for significant amounts of water in the bedrock. Because the size and number of joints decrease with depth (Corner and Harsh, 1978) and are open to depths less than one-hundred feet (100′) below land surface (McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1982), wells drilled into the bedrock are lowyielding (generally ten to fifty gallons per minute (Buller, 1978: McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1985)).

B. Geologic Setting

The area was subjected to glaciation to glaciation during the Wisconsin Stage Pleistocene Epoch. Much of the bedrock is concealed under the glacial deposits. These deposits are thickest in the valleys.

Several types of deposits were left by the glaciers. Each is described below (descriptions from McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1982):

Stratified Drift: The aquifers that can support public water supply wells are composed of stratified drift and outwash deposits. Stratified drift is the fairly wellsorted sand and gravel found along the valley walls. It was deposited by streams flowing between the glacier and the bedrock hills.
Outwash Deposits: Outwash is sand and gravel deposited by streams flowing from the face of the melting glacier. It is extensive in the Cortland-Homer-Preble area, filling the valleys with continuous deposits up to two-hundred feet (240′) thick. Outwash deposits comprise the most productive aquifers in the area.
Till: The most widespread glacial deposit is till, an unsorted mixture of silt, clay, sand, gravel, and rock fragments. In Cortland County, the till is mainly silt and clay, and has low permeability. The till therefore enhances runoff from the upland areas and limits recharge to the bedrock. Till is exposed in the uplands portion of the area.
Moraine: Material pushed in front, or to the side of the advancing glacier forms a moraine. Moraines generally represent the furthest advance of a glacier. In the Cortland-Homer-Preble area, moraines are found at valley heads. They are comprised of the redeposited material left by previous glacialactivity, and consist of stratified sand and gravel interbedded with poorly sorted silt and clay. Because of low permeability, the moraines act as ground water divides.
Glacial Lake: Glacial lakes were formed in the valleys as the glacier retreated, because the existing drainage outlet had become closed by moraine deposition. Lake sediments, consisting of finegrained sand, silt and clay were deposited. These sediments, which range from ten to three-hundred feet (10-300′) thick, have low permeability and act as a confining unit between aquifers.

C. Ground Water Hydrology

Ground water moves through inter-granular openings in the unconsolidated deposits and through cleavage planes, joints and fractures in the consolidated rocks of the area. As stated above, the yield from bedrock wells in the Cortland-HomerPreble area is low. However, the yield is sufficient for domestic supplies and upland wells are completed into bedrock (Buller, 1978).

The most productive aquifers in the area are the outwash sands and gravels found in the major stream valleys. In the HomerPreble valley, it is the surficial outwash aquifer that provides the majority of drinking water. Its saturated thickness averages fifty-five feet (55′) (Buller, 1978) and yields may exceed one-thousand gallons per minute (1,000 gpd) (Miller, 1982). The base of the aquifer is defined by a lacustrine clay layer at a depth of approximately sixty feet (60′) below the land surface (Buller, 1978). There is a thin layer of sand between the clay and bedrock; its potential as a source of water is unknown (Miller, 1982).

In the southern portion of the area, there is a confined outwash aquifer as well as a surficial outwash aquifer. Both are present within the City of Cortland and the valleys of the East and Main Branches of the Tioughnioga River (Reynolds, 1987). Current well yields are as high as four-hundred gallons per minute (400 gpm) (McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1985).

Southwest of the City of Cortland, the sands and gravel of the aquifer have been interpreted to represent kame terraces and icedisintegration deposits (Miller, 1982).

The water table in the Cortland-Homer-Preble area generally occurs at depths less than twenty-five feet (25′) below the land surface in the major stream valleys (Buller, 1978; Buller, 1978; Miller, 1982; McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc. 1985). In the upland areas, the water table may be as deep as one-hundred feet (100′) below the land surface (McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1985), although this is still well above the valley floors.

Although the relatively impermeable till limits infiltration, recharge to the upland ground water system is derived from precipitation (McFarland-Johnson Engineers, Inc, 1985). In the valleys, the surficial aquifer is recharged by infiltration of precipitation, infiltration from losing streams, and upland sources (Buller, 1978), such as runoff and streams from the hills (McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1985; Reynolds, 1987) and very minor recharge from the bedrock (Buller, 1978; Miller, 1982. According to Reynolds (1987), the confined aquifer (where present) is recharged by the surficial aquifer wherever they are in hydraulic contact. This occurs through the stratified drift deposits along the valley walls, which connect the two aquifers, and wherever the confining lacustrine unit is absent.

In the upland areas, the ground water flow is toward and into the streams (Buller, 1978; McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1985). Upland streams are gaining (i.e., they act as ground water sinks) (McFarland-Johnson Engineers, Inc., 1985). Once they reach the valley floors, however, some of the water recharges the aquifer (Buller, 1978).

In the major valleys, ground water flows toward the center from the valley walls (Buller, 1978). There is also flow in the river’s downstream direction (Buller, , 1978; 1978; Corner and Harsh Inc., 1985; Reynolds, 1987). After the valleys meet near the City of Cortland, flow is southeast, following the Tioughnioga River valley out of the area (Buller, 1978).

1. Recharge
The recharge area is delineated by the designated valleys and the upland area which drain into them. All precipitation within these boundaries has the possibility of recharging the aquifer system.

2. Discharge

Discharge from the aquifer system is by seepage into gaining reaches of streams, evapotranspiration, flow to pumping the area wells and flow out of the area (Buller, 1978; McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1985; Reynolds, 1987).
3. Streamflow Source Zone
The streamflow source zone is the upstream area of losing streams which flow into the recharge area. For the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System, this area is defined as the portion of the Tioughnioga River basin upstream of the southeastern end of the designated area (near Blodgett Mills), as shown on Figure 1. The project review area is coincident with the designated aquifer area, its recharge area, and streamflow source zone.
D. Ground Water Quality

Data provided by the Cortland County Health Department (CCDH) in the petition indicate that all of the ground water in the area contains less than three-hundred milligrams per liter (300 mg/l) total dissolved solids and ranges in temperature from three to nine degrees Centigrade. The pH ranges from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline water varies from moderately to very hard (6.5 to 8.0). The water varies from moderately to very hard (85 to 250 mg/l).

The overall quality of the ground water is good, although there has been contamination of several private wells in the southwestern portion of the area by organic solvents (up to (200 parts per billion). All public water supply wells meet or exceed the appropriate State and Federal drinking water standards.

E. Designated Areas

The area that has been designated as the Sole Source Aquifer is defined as the stratified drift and glacial outwash within the valleys. This area is coincident with that identified as a Primary Water Supply Aquifer by New York State Department of Health (1981) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (1987). The aquifer service area is the same as the aquifer area. Figure 1 shows the location and boundaries of the designated area.

F. Ground Water Use

Table 1 shows the population served and the amount of water withdrawn by public water suppliers within the Aquifer Service Area (ASA). Table 2 shows the estimated population within the ASA relying on private wells. Water use for the population using private wells is estimated based on one hundred gallons per day per person. All information was provided by the Cortland County Health Department.

Table 3 highlights the dependence of the SSA on the petitioned aquifer system. As shown, the area obtains 100% of its drinking water (5,599,813 gallons per day) from the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System.

III. Susceptibility to Contamination

The Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System is highly vulnerable to contamination, due to highly soil permeability and shallow depth to ground water. The following is a discussion of potential sources of contamination, many of which may receive Federal financial assistance through agencies such as the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Transportation Routes and Facilities

A major interstate highway runs through the proposed designation area. The potential exists for accidental spills on the land overlying the aquifer which could result in serious contamination of the water supply.

On-site Septic Disposal

There are many areas that depend upon on-site septic-systems for waste disposal. These systems, depending on design and soil conditions, may lead to the contamination of the ground water.

Storm Water Runoff

Rain and snowmelt runoff can carry potential contaminants as it enters the aquifer. These include deicing salts, animal excrement, pesticides, fertilizers, petroleum products, bacteria and particulates from air pollutants.

Commercial and Industrial Facilities

There are various commercial and industrial facilities located within the aquifer system borders. Several of these facilities make, use or store chemicals and substances that could be hazardous if allowed to enter the ground water system. A common example is the storage of heating oil and gasoline, often in underground tanks. Leakage and/or accidental spills from tanks is not uncommon. Dense commercial, industrial, or residential development may also present a potential source of contamination to the aquifer.

Agricultural Practices

Much of the land in the designated area is used for agricultural purposes. Agricultural practices, such as chemical fertilizer application, pesticide and herbicide use, and disposal of animal wastes, can contribute to ground water contamination. This can occur through direct recharge or surface runoff.

Future Development

Future commercial, industrial, and residential development is also a potential source of contamination to the aquifer. The Cortland-Homer-Preble area is under intensive development pressure. It is unlikely to ease in the future. Therefore, projects should be designed to avoid significant increases in contaminant loading to the aquifer system.

IV. Alternative Sources of Drinking Water

There are no alternate sources that can provide the same quantity of drinking water as the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System at a reasonable cost. Nearby surface water sources are the Tioughnioga River System (including several lakes north of the Town of Preble) and Skaneateles Lake. The Tioughnioga River System is hydraulically connected to Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System, and therefore is not a potential alternate source.

According to a letter received from the City Engineer of Syracuse, the City of Syracuse has the legal authority to use Skaneateles Lake as a water supply. During critical dry periods the lake is not able to meet the needs of Syracuse. Due to these institutional and capacity restrictions, Skaneateles Lake cannot be considered an alternate source of drinking water to the petitioned aquifer system.

There are four community water supply systems within Cortland County that are outside the petitioned area. Each uses ground water. Capacity (McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc., 1982) and current use information were used to determine the quantity of water potentially available from each. This is shown in Table 4. As seen, the total excess capacity of these systems (622,700 gpd) is inadequate to replace the water supplied by the petitioned aquifer (approximately 5.6 Mgpd).

In addition, there are two public water suppliers west of the petitioned area in Tompkins County that can be considered potential alternate sources. The Village of Dryden obtains drinking water from ground water and the Village of Groton utilizes both ground water and surface water. Data supplied by John Anderson of the Tompkins County Department of Health (shown in Table 5) indicate that the excess capacity of these systems (330,000 gpd) is also inadequate to replace the water from the petitioned aquifer system.

To summarize, the total excess capacity of nearby public water supply systems is approximately 950,000 gpd. This volume is insufficient to supply drinking water for the ASA should the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System become contaminated.

V. Summary

Based upon the information presented, the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System meets the technical requirements for SSA designation. More than fifty percent (50%) of the drinking water for the aquifer service area is supplied by the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System. In addition, there are no economically feasible alternative drinking water sources which could replace the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System. It is therefore recommended that the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System be designated a SSA. Designation will provide an additional review of those projects for which Federal financial assistance is requested, and will ensure ground water protection measures, incorporating state and local measures whenever possible, are built into the projects.

VI. Selected References

1. Buller, W. (1978). Hydrologic Appraisal of the Water Resources of the HomerPreble Valley, New York. U.S. Geological Survey Water Resource Investigation OpenFile Report 7894. 31 pp.

2. Buller, W., W.J. Nichols and J.F. Harsh (1978). Quality and Movement of Ground Water in Otter Creek-Dry Creek Basin, Cortland County, New York. U.S. Geological Survey Water Investigation Open-File Report 78-3. 63pp.

3. Corner, Oliver J. and J.F. Harsh (1978). Digital-model Simulation of the Glacial Outwash Basin, Cortland County, New York. U.S. Geological Survey Water Resource Investigation Open-File Report 78-71. 34 pp.

4. McFarlandJohnson Engineers, Inc. (1982). Central New York Ground Water Management Program for Cortland County – Task I Report on Ground Water Resources. 99 pp.

5. Milller, Todd S. (1982). CortlandHomerPreble Area, in Atlas of Eleven Selected Aquifers in New York State (R. Waller and A. Finch, compilers). U.S. Geological Survey Water Resource Investigation OpenFile Report 82553. pp. 149172.

6. Milller, Ernest (1965). Quaternary Geology of New York, in Quaternary Geology of the United States (H.E. Wright and E.G. Frey, eds.). Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 922 pp.

7. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (1987). Upstate Ground Water Management Program. 232 pp.

8. New York State Department of Health (1981). Report of Ground Water Dependence in New York State. 49 pp.

9. Reynolds, Richard J. (1987). Hydrogeology of the Surficial Outwash Aquifer at Cortland, Cortland County, New York. U.S. Geological Survey Water Resource Investigation Report 85-4090. 43 pp.

VII. Tables

Table 1. Community Water Suppliers Within Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System

Supply Population
Water Usage
(gallons per day)
City of Cortland 20,100 3,792,000
Cortlandville 2,700 413,600
Homer 4,250 717,800
McGraw 1,300 87,900
Scott 154 9,341
Preble 51 3,200
Green Acres MHP 32 2,000
McBride MHP 54 3,400
Mountainview MHP 86 5,400
Parker Manor MHP 64 4,000
Pine Hill MHP 253 16,000
Ripley Hill MHP 64 4,000
Tully MHP 333 13,672
TOTAL 29,441 5,072,313

MPH = Mobil Home Park
Source: Cortland County Health Department.

Table 2. Private Well Information within Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System

Town Estimated
Estimated Water
Usage (gal/day)
Cortlandville 2,700 270,000
Homer 1,575 157,500
Preble 860 86,000
Scott 140 14,000
TOTAL 5,275 527,500

Estimate of water usage based on 100 gallons per day per person.
Source: Cortland County Health Department.

Table 3. Current Drinking Water Sources for the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System Service Area and Percentage of Water Obtained from Each Source

Source \ Use Public
Petitioned Aquifer System 90.4 9.6 100%
Other Aquifers —- —- —-
Surface Water —- —-
Transported from the Outside —- —- —-
Total 90.4 9.6 100%

Table 4. Alternate Water Sources within Cortland County

(All volumes are gallons per day)
Supplier Capacity * Current Usage # Excess Capacity
Cincinnatus 270,000 189,500 80,500
Harford 100,000 4,000 96,000
Marathon 490,000 203,800 286,200
Greek Peak 170,000 10,000 160,000
TOTAL 1,030,000 407,300 622,700

* McFarland-Johnson Engineers, Inc., 1982, Table 6-6.
# Source: Cortland County Health Department.

Table 5. Alternate Water Sources within Tompkins County

(All volumes are gallons per day)
Supplier Capacity Current Usage Excess Capacity
Dryden 300,000 200,000 100,000
Groton 610,000 380,000 230,000
TOTAL 910,000 580,000 330,000

Source: John Andersson, Tompkins County Department of Health.

VIII. Figure

Figure 1. Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System Designated Area

(Displayed USGS 7.5 Minute Quadrangle Sheets)

USGS Quads




An educational seminar on natural gas exploration is scheduled for

Monday April 11th, from 7pm to 9pm at the New York State Grange Headquarters in Cortland, NY.

The seminar will focus on the issues associated with natural gas production in shale formations and lessons learned by our neighbors in northern Pennsylvania (PA).

With over 400 wells, Bradford County, PA is considered to be at the forefront of development in the Marcellus shale “natural gas play”. When the race for natural gas development in shale formations came to PA, the State and Bradford County were not as prepared as they would like to have been. The PA Department of Environmental Protection was quick to issue permits for extracting gas through the use of horizontal hydrofracturing. Horizontal hydrofracturing brought a wide range of opportunities and impacts to the local communities.

With the current moratorium on horizontal hydrofracturing in New York State, local communities have an opportunity to hear firsthand what is happening in northern PA in order to be better prepared for natural gas development, should it come here. With over 30 years of experience at the Bradford County Conservation District, Manager Mike Lovegreen knows every nook and cranny of his county and has seen firsthand the impact this industry can have on small rural communities. Mike will be discussing his experiences relating to the natural gas industry and what the Conservation District and local municipalities roles are regarding issues such as water quality monitoring, roads, economic development, etc. He will discuss the importance of maintaining a good working relationship between local government, the gas industry and the community. All landowners, local officials and community members are invited to attend this informational seminar focusing on Bradford County’s experiences with the natural gas boom of recent years.

This seminar is sponsored by the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and is free and open to the public. If you have any questions about the seminar or any of the services or programs provided by the SWCD please call 607-756-5991 or visit the SWCD website at


Previous presentation

Mike Lovegreen, Bradford County Conservation District Manager, spoke at the Otsego County Water Quality Coordinating Committee meeting on Tuesday, February 22 on first-hand experiences there. He had a lot of interesting things to say — some expected, some not. The boom town information is worth a look. Please see the article in the current issue of OCCA’s newsletter, “The Lookout.” A video is available, and there is a link to his PowerPoint presentation on the OCCA website homepage.



Most of what has happened in Pennsylvania is a good lesson – in what not to do:

1. The major assets – the gas wells themselves – are tax exempt from property (ad valorem) tax in Pa.

The schools, counties, towns get nothing from them = zero.

Pa. is perhaps the only (?) state that exempts gas wells from local property tax.

Payoffs in Harrisburg that keep it this way.

No money for regulation, no money for EMS, for roads, nada

2. The product – natural gas –  is tax exempt under Pa. law – one of only 2 states (with gas production) that exempts it

Because Pa. has the best politicians that money can buy. No money for regulation, for roads, for nada

3. Since most of the producers, suppliers and crews are from out of state,  most of the money leaves the state tax free

4. The fracking flowback ends up on the roads and rivers in Pa. because there is no safe place to dispose of it in Pa.

The closest disposal wells are across the state line in Ohio.

So it gets dumped illegally or sold as “de-icer”. They catch some dumpers – most they don’t.

“Recycling/re-use” simply increases the toxicity with  each pass.

“Processing” simply separates the toxic radioactive sludge from the toxic radioactive water.

So far as shale gas development is concerned, Pa. is a bad joke.

More like a 3rd world country.

Suggest you treat any “expert” from Pa. accordingly. . .

James Northrup

Fracking Fictions – PPT from Northrup on Industry

Fracking Fictions – PPT from   James Northrup on Industry .  Northrup is a former industry employee who now lives in NY part-time.

Clear Waters Winter Issue devoted to Gas Drilling

The winter edition of Clear Waters Magazine (New York Water Environment Association’s quarterly publication) is fracking focused.  Check it out!

Hydrogeologist Reviews Marcellus Shale and Natural Gas Production in New York
by William M. Kappel

Pennsylvania allows dumping of tainted waters from hydrofracking into drinking water streams |

Pennsylvania allows dumping of tainted waters from hydrofracking into drinking water streams | Jan. 4, 2011

Pennsylvania alone allows waterways to serve as primary disposal sites for fracking waste

By David B. Caruso
The Associated Press
Monday, January 3, 2011

The natural gas boom gripping parts of the U.S. has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep.
Not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush.

There, the liquid that gushes from gas wells is only partially treated for substances that could be environmentally harmful, then dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.

In the two years since the frenzy of activity began in the vast underground rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania has been the only state allowing waterways to serve as the primary disposal place for the huge amounts of wastewater produced by a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

State regulators, initially caught flat-footed, tightened the rules this year for any new water treatment plants, but allowed any existing operations to continue discharging water into rivers.

At least 3.6 million barrels of the waste were sent to treatment plants that empty into rivers during the 12 months ending June 30, according to state records. That is enough to cover a square mile with more than 81/2 inches of brine.

Researchers are still trying to figure out whether Pennsylvania’s river discharges, at their current levels, are dangerous to humans or wildlife. Several studies are under way, some under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency.

State officials, energy companies and the operators of treatment plants insist that with the right safeguards in place, the practice poses little or no risk to the environment or to the hundreds of thousands of people, especially in Western Pennsylvania, who rely on those rivers for drinking water.

But an Associated Press review found that Pennsylvania’s efforts to minimize, control and track wastewater discharges have sometimes failed.

For example:

• Of the roughly 6 million barrels of well liquids produced in a 12-month period examined by The AP, the state couldn’t account for the disposal method for 1.28 million barrels, about a fifth of the total, due to a weakness in its reporting system and incomplete filings by some energy companies.

• Some public water utilities that sit downstream from big gas wastewater treatment plants have struggled to stay under the federal maximum for contaminants known as trihalomethanes, which can cause cancer if swallowed over a long period.

• Regulations that should have kept drilling wastewater out of the important Delaware River Basin, the water supply for 15 million people in four states, were circumvented for many months.

In 2009 and part of 2010, energy company Cabot Oil & Gas trucked more than 44,000 barrels of well wastewater to a treatment facility in Hatfield Township, a Philadelphia suburb. Those liquids were then discharged through the town sewage plant into the Neshaminy Creek, which winds through Bucks and Montgomery counties on its way to the Delaware River.

Regulators put a stop to the practice in June, but the more than 300,000 residents of the 17 municipalities that get water from the creek or use it for recreation were never informed that numerous public pronouncements that the watershed was free of gas waste had been wrong.

“This is an outrage,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, an environmental group. “This is indicative of the lack of adequate oversight.”

The situation in Pennsylvania is also being watched carefully by regulators in other states, some of which have begun allowing some river discharges. New York also sits over the Marcellus Shale, but Gov. David Paterson has slapped a moratorium on high-volume fracking while environmental regulations are drafted. Read more of this post

Gastem: Marcellus Shale Fracs in New York State Successful

The Industry Wins

Gastem: Marcellus Shale Fracs in New York State Successful.  Press Release 12/21/10

The Earth and Humans Lose:

Comment from Chip Northrup on Community Impact

—- Forwarded Message —-” <>
Sent: Sun, September 12, 2010 6:25:33 AM
Subject: [sustainableotsego] Julie’s speech to the Otsego County Board of Representatives, July 21, 2010 and how close the gas well is to the NYC watershed and the Susquehanna River

For those who are interested, this is my prepared speech to the Otsego
County Board of Representatives, July 21, 2010. Due to the meetings
time constraints, it is not exactly word for word as I said it.

Julie Solloway, Maryland, NY. My house is about one mile from the Ross1
natural gas well.

We used to have GOLD on Crumhorn Mountain. We called it WATER. It
tasted great and was abundant.

Numerous times before the permit was given, and before drilling began,
we said there was no way they could drill on the Ross property on
Crumhorn Mountain, Maryland, NY, and not contaminate the water,
forever- especially our farm.

Water IS more valuable than gas.

I know of 8 water wells, including ours, that have been adversely
affected since the drilling of the Ross1 natural gas well began.  And,
there is concern about a ninth one.

This is the first natural gas well drilled with this technique, in New
York State. Water wells were showing adverse affects shortly after the
drilling began, which was about 2 ½ months BEFORE they fracked.

We can not drink our water anymore. People, pets and animals have been,
and are, sick since shortly after the drilling began. My family is only
using the water to flush the toilet and that is causing health
symptoms. Often times there is a chemical smell in the bathroom.

Having been forced to experience the new technique of natural gas
drilling first hand, I give you some of my experiences:

Within a month of the drilling starting, I was violently ill after
drinking our water. (Some of the symptoms were blurry vision, severe
stomach cramps and collapsing.) This is a water well that we had never
had a problem with, or been sick from, since it was drilled. After
this, I only used the water to wash my hands or shower. My clothes were
also washed in it.

Later, I also had a severe reaction after taking a shower. My nose and
the roof of my mouth burned so badly, that at first, I didn?t even
realize my tongue was swollen.

On the day of the shower incident, I waited three hours, before taking
a shower at another house to try to wash the contaminants off me.
During this time, the County Health Department contacted the State
Health Department and others, trying to find a doctor for me to go to
who could help me. They could not come up with any. Both the County and
State Health Departments told us no local doctor or emergency room
would know what to test me for, or treat me for, concerning chemical
exposure, in regard to a natural gas well.

Because of the severe reaction after taking a shower, the State Health
Department made the gas company test our water. My mother and I had
reactions after the gas company ran our tap water full blast 30-45
minutes before they took water to test. When questioned as to why they
ran the water like that, they admitted it didn?t have to be run at all
because it was a self-cleaning artesian well.- (Their words.) At that
time, we asked the gas company if they would be testing for all the
chemicals, substances, etc., they used and/or could encounter while
drilling the natural gas well. They said No!- they were only doing a
baseline.  Now they are claiming they have tested for all the chemicals
all along.

Some of the symptoms we, and others affected, have had, or continue to
have, are: headaches, sore throats, weird body aches and pains, rashes,
abnormal hair loss, blurry vision, collapsing, severe stomach pains,
bloody noses, intense ear pressure, varying degrees of dizziness,
burning in the nose and throat, and exhaustion from the 24 hour 7 day a
week activity that went on for months.

Noise was a huge problem.
A lot of people were scared by the violent, thunder-like noises.
There was a lot of noise from the tremendous truck and vehicle traffic.
The intense noise from the drilling site was so bad that you couldn?t
sleep, and if you did manage to fall asleep, you were awakened by the
noise and couldn?t get back to sleep.

Among the many noises, was a noise like a very low flying plane
hovering over-top of us. This was a different aggravating noise than
the almost constant droning noise that you also couldn?t get away from.

Explosions occurred anytime day or night. These ranged from muffled to
so loud we thought a huge jet was going to hit the house. They also
shook the house.

The air pollution, including the stink, was so bad at times it burned
noses and throats. The horses didn?t want to go out of the barn.
Sometimes you would go outside to do something, and the obnoxious
stench was so bad you had to go back in the house. Going back in the
house didn?t necessarily mean you got completely away from the awful

There were a lot of unidentified and unfamiliar offensive odors. Smells
that were, and/or are still being experienced, include a wide degree of
varying sulfur smells, along with smells something like: rotten egg,
swamp, matchhead, egg sandwich, nail polish, formaldehyde, and
hydrochloric acid, among others. There can be, has been, and for those
still doing laundry at home, continues to be, an awful smell while
doing laundry. People stink after taking a shower.

There was tremendous truck and vehicle traffic, day and night. They
often deviated from their agreed upon designated route for heavy
vehicles.  Local residents experienced tailgating, interrupted flow of
traffic, being forced off the road, and were often woken up by the

Other negative impacts, noticed since the drilling began, include, but
aren?t limited to, dead animals, peculiar looking and odd growing
plants, shockwaves, and strange looking water, such as discolored,
and/or odd things throughout it from surface to bottom.

We were unable to do very much of our haying last year because of the
gas drilling. The little we did, we all had symptoms shortly afterwards.

Symptoms were also experienced after repairing, for an hour, the fence
that is only about 15 feet from Potato Creek.

The horses didn?t want to, and many times refused to, drink the water
from Potato Creek, even when it was brought to them in a bucket.

Since shortly after the drilling began, I have been dealing with sick
dogs, sick horses and sick people, including me.

I thought allowing the drilling of the Ross1 natural gas well would be
devastating. I didn?t realize how bad it would be, the magnitude of the
affects, or how quickly water contamination would occur.

I used to say, the more you learn about natural gas drilling, the worse

The State Health Department has given us, and others affected,
ridiculous excuses of causes of health symptoms such as: it must be
your shampoo, it must be the sink traps, it must be dust. At another
household, the State Health Department claimed they had used too much
water. This was last year when we had all that rain. The State Health
Department and the gas company both insist there isn?t any reason why
we can?t drink the water.

Several people, including a New York State Health Department worker,
said it is very likely that the chemical or substance I am reacting to,
will not show up in a water test; i.e. there is not enough of it to
show up in a water test, but there is enough of it to cause me to have
a reaction to it. I will never be able to use our water again.

Would you let your kids and grandchildren drink my water? I won?t.

I hope no one in this room has to go through what we are going through.

We don?t call our WATER gold anymore. We call it POISON.

Thank you.

This is relevant to a lot of New York State and beyond. It concerns
people besides those in Otsego County.
Note: The Ross1 natural gas well is approximately 11.5 miles from the
Catskill/Delaware (NYC) Watershed. The closest adversely affected water
well we KNOW about, is approximately 9.5 miles from this watershed. The
Ross1 is also about 1.8 miles from the Susquehanna River. On the other
side, it is about 1.4 miles to the Schenevus Creek, an A rated trout
stream that empties into the Susquehanna River. A small, unnamed creek
which originates at the pond/wetland bordering the Ross1 wellpad, and
Potato Creek flow into Schenevus Creek.
Also note, the proposed Ross2 site is at least 3 miles closer to this
NYC watershed, than the Ross1. It will probably be within 8.5 miles of
the watershed. The proposed Ross2 is very close to Schenevus Creek and
a propane pipeline. This pipeline blew up in the hamlet of North
Blenheim, March 13, 1990, killing two people and demolishing ten homes.
(1-6) On January 25, 2004, an explosion caused by a leak in a valve, in
this same pipeline, blew up a house and caused an evacuation in
Harpersfield, NY. (3, 4, 6, 7) On August 27, 2010, a leak in this same
pipeline caused an evacuation near Gilboa. NY. (5) In July 2010, the
gas company was taking baseline water tests in preparation for drilling
the Ross2. As far as we know no permit has been granted or applied for
to the DEC.

Work Cited Links







Ban in Otisco Watershed Dec. 13, 2010

One more victory to add to this very exciting day!
Tonight the Otisco Town Board unanimously voted for a moratorium in our Otisco Lake watershed and the Town of Otisco!  This was after we all heard Don Siegel, SU Professor (pro-fracking) speak for well over an hour.  The Board was gracious enough to allow us to speak as well (we had our “day in the sun” twice before) and ask Dr. Siegel questions, sometimes disputing and challenging what he had said.  All in all it was a very cordial evening, everyone was very respectful.  We expressed our appreciation for his time and “knowledge” and he actually complimented us (all people/groups working against hydrofracking) for doing what we are doing.  He said, “If it is done in NY State, it will be done w/ strong regulatory standards and we all have the Advocates against hydrofracking to thank for that.”  But he did paint a very benign picture of hydrofracking and kept making reference to “scare tactics” and being offended by the untruths of what is being said about “his” science.
I want to thank everyone who was able to be there and who came out in this horrible weather, OLPA Members: Kristin and Marty Ryan, Peg Kronen, Margie and Tim Creamer, and Ken Liberman.  ShaleShockCNY Members:  Joe Flynn, John Sutton, Diane LoDolce , Kitty Burns, and Norm Stormes (Mary Menapace was stuck in Atlanta, Dave Kelly was stuck at work and Teri Lore threw her back out and had just come from the Chiropractor, but thanks for trying to make it!).  
THANK YOU to everyone who spoke up…we are being heard! 
Anita Williams, President
Otisco Lake Preservation Association

Lake Como Hydrofracking- Impacts on Hunters Fishermen-Outdoorsmen-Wed. Nov. 8

 (hike or ski in Bear Swamp then cocoa at the Inn for a discussion with Chris).

Hydrofracking: Impacts on Hunters Fishermen and Outdoorsmen (and snowmobilers, cross country skiers and all outdoors-lovers)


An Afternoon with Chris Burger




Lake Como Inn()

1307 East Lake Road Map

Cortland, NY 13045 (315) 496-2149

Join Chris for a presentation on the Marcellus Shale Gas Play covering history of how gas is formed and extracted, impacts, ways industry strive to protect the environment and problems they experience, and how people react .

Chris  Burger owns Horizon Enterprises: Resource Management Consultant Co.

Degrees in Chemical Engineering, Social Psychology, and Economics

Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, Co-founder and Chair

Broome County Government Gas Drilling Education Committee

Center for Civic Engagement

NYS Sierra Club Gas Task Force

NYS Council of Churches Public Policy Commission

Southern Tier East Regional Development Strategy Committee

Food available at the Lake Como Inn, call Al for prices and menu by Monday December 6th if you wish to buy dinner.

Sponsor: Tri-County Skaneateles Lake Pure Water Association.

For more info and future events in the Skaneateles Lake watershed –