We came across another story pertaining to the natural gas drilling taking place along a stretch of the New York – Pennsylvania border. As part of this article, though, a scientist who studies the effects of natural gas drilling on water resources had a few pieces of advice for residents in areas where the drilling takes place:
Bryan Swistock, Penn State water resources specialist, is studying connections between brine water, water used for the drilling process and drinking water supplies.
One thing he recommends is that property owners get it stated in their lease that the drill site has to be at least 500 feet from a water supply. He added Pennsylvania law states it only has to be 200 feet, but that may not be enough.
After the permit is issued, the only notice given about the commencement of drilling will be to anyone with their drinking water supply within 1,000 feet of the drilling location. They will be notified within 24 hours of the drilling to begin.
Another tip he gives homeowners is to get their water tested by a state certified water testing lab prior to drilling, even if the site is not on their property and even if they are outside of the 500-feet zone. He said that will be the only way to prove something happened to the supply during the drilling.
After the drilling is complete, get another sample taken and tested.
Brine water disposal. Swistock also talked about the use of brine water at the drilling site and storage of the liquid on the property. He said it is very important to keep it away from drinking water areas.
He said millions of gallons of water will be needed for the drilling process and it is important to plan ahead and find out where the company plans to store the fluids.
Swistock added only 30 percent of what the company uses to drill will resurface within a couple of months and not enough studies have been completed to find out when and where the remaining water will resurface in the future. ( )
In a nutshell, Swistock seems to believe we do not know enough about the effects of natural gas drilling on water supplies in the region to safely say that ‘nothing bad will happen’ and that only testing of local and semi-local water supplies before, during and after the drilling will have the ability to demonstrate proof of changes in water quality — if any show up.
Note that he mentioned using a ‘state certified water testing lab’ for the testing. Not only will this help to ensure the testing gets done by qualified water testing analysts, but it also pretty much guarantees impartiality… which could come in handy if the test results ever need to get entered as data in a Court case down the road.
As another option, you can always contract out with an independent water testing company such as National Testing Laboratories which uses EPA and standard methods to test drinking water and has certification in most US States.