Yaw Encouraged by Study on Rural Drinking Water Supplies

HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania today released the findings of, The Impact of Marcellus Gas Drilling on Rural Drinking Water Supplies, a Center-sponsored research project to provide an unbiased and large scale study of water quality in private water wells in rural Pennsylvania before and after the drilling of nearby Marcellus Shale gas wells, according to State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).

One research recommendation is for additional setback requirements for natural gas drilling companies between the location of gas wells and nearby private water wells for presumed liability and certified mail notification.

“Earlier this year I introduced Senate Bill 601, legislation that would increase the distance that a company would be presumed liable for any contamination of a water supply within 12 months after completion or alteration of the well,” Yaw said. “My legislation would also further increase the horizontal distance from a Marcellus well and an existing building or water supply. I believe these increases will provide important safeguards for landowners within the impacted areas and I am pleased that this study concluded the same,” Yaw added.

Yaw, who serves as the Center’s Chairman of the Board said: “As the natural gas industry moves forward in Pennsylvania and the General Assembly considers legislation related to the development of this industry, it is very important for our elected officials to have the information that is based on fact and not fear or fiction. That is why this study was so important.”

The study evaluated water sampled from 233 water wells in proximity to Marcellus gas wells. Among these were both treatment sites (water wells sampled before and after gas well drilling nearby) and control sites (water wells sampled though no well drilling occurred nearby). Phase 1 of the research focused on 48 private water wells located within about 2,500 feet of a nearby well pad, and Phase 2 focused on an additional 185 private water wells located within about 5,000 feet of a well pad.

According to the study results, approximately 40 percent of the water wells tested had failed at least one Safe Drinking Water Act water quality standard, most frequently for coliform bacteria, turbidity and manganese, before gas well drilling occurred. This result mirrors past studies of private water wells in Pennsylvania.

The report is the result of research sponsored by the Center and conducted by Dr. Elizabeth W. Boyer, Bryan R. Swistock, James Clark, Mark Madden, and Dana E. Rizzo of Pennsylvania State University. It was funded by a grant from the Center, which is a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Copies of the report can be obtained by contacting the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or by visiting Senator Yaw’s Website, www.senatorgeneyaw.com. To learn more about the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, click on www.rural.palegislature.us.

Contact: Nick Troutman
(717) 787-3280

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