Analyze water, not royalties
Regarding Rich Cholodofsky's news story “Westmoreland County authority hires drilling auditor to oversee shale royalties” : Instead of hiring an auditor, the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County should consider hiring a lab chemist and the appropriate analytical equipment to monitor and verify the quality of its water to assist in the prevention of a Charleston, W.Va., type of event here.
To read that it has 37 Marcellus shale gas wells on its Beaver Run Reservoir property — some located 300 feet from our reservoir — is alarming and should be a source of major concern to all 120,000 customers/households that are dependent on that source of water. Based upon the fact that a typical Marcellus well needs to be re-fracked (using many hazardous chemicals) every three to five years, the inevitable will occur.
I assume this fracking will eventually increase authority revenues by 10 percent, and if one assumes that $8 million input is divided among all 120,000 customers, that would result in a savings of $66 per year ($5.50 per month) per customer. As noted, this would not be reflected in a reduction of current bills but would slow down future increases.
This sounds great, but if one looks at the potential downside, the costs that would have to be borne by each customer would be significantly greater if we lose our water supply for any length of time. Be forewarned that this type of industrial production should not be tolerated in a watershed — even if it brings in a few extra bucks.
The writer is a retired chemist.