Gas drilling isn't harming reservoir water, IUP tests show
Routine water-quality checks at Beaver Run Reservoir indicate that the drilling and production of Marcellus shale wells have no affected on the public drinking supply, according to officials of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.
Quarterly analyses of the reservoir water have been conducted by students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for the past eight months. The authority last year paid the university $55,000 to perform the tests.
"This tells us so far there's been no effect on the water, positively or negatively. It's all the same to us," authority manager Chris Kerr said.
There are 13 working gas wells on land leased by the authority on the 5,000-acre reservoir property in Washington, Bell and Salem townships in the northern end of Westmoreland County.
Drilling has recently been completed for an additional 14 wells, according to John Ashton, the authority's assistant manager.
Students from IUP's geography and geoscience departments have collected water samples from the 1,300-acre reservoir, tributaries and streams on the property and drainage areas near the drilling pads.
Samples are being analyzed by chemistry students and results will be posted, according to IUP's public website.
So far, the tests have found the presence of some metals and other signs of industrial activity near the reservoir, but nothing that would threaten the public's safety, according to Brian Okey, an associate professor for geography and regional planning at IUP.
"As far as it being a risk to the public health, it is not," Okey said.
About a half-dozen students were out during the first weekend in March for the third round of water sampling. The water will be tested again in June.
Okey, who is coordinating the water collection, said the most troubling finding has nothing to do with Marcellus shale drilling. The main concern has been acid run-off related to old coal mines south of the reservoir.
That run-off is being diluted in the reservoir and filtered out by the authority's water treatment plant, Okey said.
"It's a complex area around the watershed and what we've found so far around the drilling pads is not super-alarming," Okey said.
The authority's contract with IUP expires in June. Negotiations are expected to begin soon to extend the water testing program.
Ashton said the authority is working to create a link on its webpage to IUP's.
The county authority serves more than 120,000 water customers in Allegheny, Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland counties.Additional Information:
On the Web
Results of the water testing at the Beaver Run Reservoir will be posted at http://www.iup.edu/page.aspx?id?120005 .
Additional information has been posted by the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County at http://www.mawc.org/marcellus-shale/ .
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- WCCC to hold faculty, staff salaries flat in contracts
- Greensburg man charged with terroristic threats
- Ligonier Township equine facility breaks ground
- PennDOT considers I-70 options for Yukon, Madison ramps
- Children honor late Ligonier Township officer at Westmoreland Fair
- Man gets probation for sex with teen girl in New Kensington
- South Huntingdon: 33 years too long to pay fine
- Prison sentence extended for New Kensington man
- Water shutoff set Tuesday for Wilpen area
- Trafford man sentenced for sex with teen
- Megan’s List offender charged with assault on 10-year-old Latrobe girl