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Watershed group will host Marcellus stewardship session

| Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 9:33 p.m.

The Mountain Watershed Association, based out of the Indian Creek Watershed in Westmoreland and Fayette counties, will host a visual assessment training session through the Marcellus Citizen Stewardship Project from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Worthington-West Franklin Community Library.

It's the first time the community organization will offer the training in Armstrong County.

"While the Department of Environmental Protection has increased inspection and enforcement, it's impossible for their inspectors to be everywhere at once," said Veronica Coptis, the association's community organizer. "Citizens can play a very important role in monitoring Marcellus development, and our training gives them the tools necessary to safely and effectively provide oversight."

Participants in the session will learn to see, hear and smell potential issues stemming from local drilling operations without any equipment. They'll be briefed on permits, regulations and how to file a drilling complaint.

"Citizens should engage in monitoring Marcellus activity to have a better understanding of what is occurring in their community," Coptis said. "It will offer more protection to the community as volunteers can alert the proper agency to any impacts to their neighborhood that may have otherwise gone unnoticed."

Wheeling Jesuit University biology professor Ben Stout will be in the library beginning at 5 p.m. to go over any pre-drill water test results. Although water testing will not be done on-site, Stout will interpret the results of previous tests for residents who have had their water examined at a certified lab.

"By attending the training, each person will be able to be another set of eyes and ears for the DEP," Coptis said.

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