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Water Issues Related to Marcellus Gas Drilling Activity Water Issues Related to Marcellus Gas Drilling Activity Bryan Swistock Water Resources Extension.

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Presentation on theme: "Water Issues Related to Marcellus Gas Drilling Activity Water Issues Related to Marcellus Gas Drilling Activity Bryan Swistock Water Resources Extension."— Presentation transcript:

1 Water Issues Related to Marcellus Gas Drilling Activity Water Issues Related to Marcellus Gas Drilling Activity Bryan Swistock Water Resources Extension Specialist Penn State Cooperative Extension School of Forest Resources

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3 A Summary of State Regulations Water management plan in gas drilling permitWater management plan in gas drilling permit Earth disturbance permit if > 5 acresEarth disturbance permit if > 5 acres Enforced by DEP BOGM instead ofEnforced by DEP BOGM instead of Conservation Districts Bonds for water supply replacement (1984 era)Bonds for water supply replacement (1984 era) “Presumed responsibility” for contamination of drinking water supplies within 1,000 feet of gas well and six months after drilling“Presumed responsibility” for contamination of drinking water supplies within 1,000 feet of gas well and six months after drilling Setbacks (adjustable by DEP or landowner)Setbacks (adjustable by DEP or landowner) 200 feet to drinking water supply200 feet to drinking water supply 100 feet to “blue line” streams100 feet to “blue line” streams 100 feet to wetlands > 1 acre100 feet to wetlands > 1 acre Outside designated floodplainsOutside designated floodplains

4 Freshwater Use for Drilling  Typically 3 to 6 million gallons per well  Access to water = landowner control  Allocation of water = state control Basin commissions, DEP, Clean Streams Law Basin commissions, DEP, Clean Streams Law  Water withdrawals Purchase water from communities Purchase water from communities Large rivers and impoundments Large rivers and impoundments Small streams and groundwater Small streams and groundwater Incentives – wastewater Incentives – wastewater  Biggest concerns Withdrawals in western PA Withdrawals in western PA Illegal withdrawals – enforcement Illegal withdrawals – enforcement “loss of water” to formation “loss of water” to formation

5 Hydrofracturing 3 to 6 million gallons of water per well Average flowback around 10% EPA starting new study of hydrofracturing

6  Chemistry is high variable in time and space Salt (sodium, chloride) Salt (sodium, chloride) High total dissolved solids (TDS) High total dissolved solids (TDS) Metals (barium, iron, manganese, etc.) Metals (barium, iron, manganese, etc.) Oil and grease Oil and grease Organic carbon Organic carbon Detergents Detergents Sediment Sediment Radionuclides (gross alpha, radon, etc.) Radionuclides (gross alpha, radon, etc.)  Collected in pits or tanks Marcellus Gas Drilling Waste Fluids (volume expected to reach 3 million gallons per day this year) Photo courtesy – Paul Hart, Hart Resource Technologies, Inc

7 Wastewater Treatment

8 Groundwater Supplies Private Water Wells and Springs Over one million homes and farms in PAOver one million homes and farms in PA 45% had never been properly tested (before Marcellus started!)45% had never been properly tested (before Marcellus started!) No regulations in PA!No regulations in PA! Pre-existing water quality problems are common (40%)Pre-existing water quality problems are common (40%) Water Wells drilled

9 Water Supply Issues  Concerns from spills, leaking pits, improper well construction, fracing, etc.  Freshwater protection string installed to protect groundwater from drilling  Many water testing issues (cost, industry data, interpretation of results, etc.)  Most frequent issues Sediment during initial drillingSediment during initial drilling Methane migrationMethane migration  Inadequate FPS implicated in several methane gas migration issues - new casing regulations aim to prevent future problems Illustration courtesy Range Resources

10 Water Well Studies % Exceeding Drinking Standards Contaminant Some recent western U.S. studies indicate higher contamination rates No pre-drilling problems in NE PA

11 Penn State Water Well Research (Center for Rural Pennsylvania)  Objectives 1 ) Determine occurrence of groundwater contamination 1 ) Determine occurrence of groundwater contamination 2) Determine factors related to contamination if it occurs 2) Determine factors related to contamination if it occurs 3) Survey water supply owners to document their experiences 3) Survey water supply owners to document their experiences  Phase 1 – intensive monitoring 50 water wells before, during and after gas drilling 50 water wells before, during and after gas drilling Located within ~2,000 feet of a site that will be drilled in 2010 Located within ~2,000 feet of a site that will be drilled in 2010 Detailed testing of ~20 parameters Detailed testing of ~20 parameters Continuous TDS measurements Continuous TDS measurements  Phase 2 – broad monitoring 200+ water well after drilling 200+ water well after drilling Within 5,000 feet of Marcellus well Within 5,000 feet of Marcellus well Participants provide pre-drilling data and attend workshop Participants provide pre-drilling data and attend workshop

12 Surface Water Monitoring  No presumed responsibility  Many volunteer networks

13 Additional Actions to Protect Water  Landowner leasing stipulations Greater setbacks to water Greater setbacks to water Use of tanks vs. pits for wastewater Use of tanks vs. pits for wastewater Pre + post-drilling testing of ALL water Pre + post-drilling testing of ALL water Water flow measurements (before seismic) Water flow measurements (before seismic) Proper retirement of seismic holes Proper retirement of seismic holes Access to water (and payment) Access to water (and payment) No surface lease? No surface lease?  Voluntary water testing and documentation  Reporting obvious problems (sediment, tastes, odors, loss of water, etc.) and report problems to DEP and gas drilling company  Updated regulations Casing and cementing regulations just updated Casing and cementing regulations just updated Many proposals to increase setbacks, increase testing, restrict hydraulic fracturing, etc. Many proposals to increase setbacks, increase testing, restrict hydraulic fracturing, etc.

14 Voluntary Industry Actions  Spill containment systems  Tanks vs. pits  Alternative fluids + additives for fracing  Water recycling  Expanded distance of pre-drilling water testing  Rapid response teams for water supply issues

15 Penn State Cooperative Extension Resources


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