Local Coalition Takes Stand On Drilling Waste/Road Issue

From Potter County Today

tripledividelogogoodMembers of the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition have unanimously adopted a position statement on state proposals to use waste water from natural gas drilling for treatment of roads.
The statement is in response to a request for public comment by Scott Walters from the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Waste Management. All ten Coalition members signed onto the petition, including municipal systems in Shinglehouse, Austin, Galeton, Coudersport, Genesee, Port Allegany, Roulette and Ulysses, as well as the Northern Tier Children’s Home and Charles Cole Memorial Hospital.
Here’s are excerpts from the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition letter delivered to DEP last week:

 

It is important to note that this is the Headwaters region of Pennsylvania, where the Allegheny, Genesee and Susquehanna rivers get their start. This is an area of many small, unclassified streams adjacent to rural, unpaved roads.
All of the member systems from our Coalition currently have a DEP-approved Sourcewater Protection Plan. This includes a detailed delineation of the recharge area for each water source, as prepared by a professional hydrogeologist.
Committees were formed to assess potential sources of contamination within the recharge area and undertake activities to reduce or eliminate the potential for contamination of each drinking water source. The committees are determined to protect these sensitive areas from the addition of new sources of contamination.
We do not consider the application of any gas well brines, whether from conventional or unconventional wells, within or in close proximity to a delineated public water supply recharge area, to be a “beneficial use” under General Permit Number WMGR064.
We strongly feel that the proposed changes could have a negative impact on our public water supply sources, as well as the pristine watersheds that we are rigorously trying to protect under ever-increasing pressure from the gas industry and other sources.
Because residual waste fluids from natural gas well operations (brine) can be laden with heavy metals (i.e., arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium lead, chloride, antimony, selenium and mercury), this activity has the potential to increase the contamination risks for both surface and ground water sources.
When brine is applied to the soils on roads, the mineral-laden sediment in the subsequent runoff has the potential to dissolve in either surface or ground water. If such contaminants were to be detected in any of our water sources at levels exceeding drinking water standards, we would be required to either remove the minerals from the water (by installing additional treatment), or abandon the source and develop a new source.
The introduction of lower levels of any of these contaminants into a water source also has the potential to adversely impact the aesthetic value of the water and could prompt the water supplier to install additional treatment, resulting in significantly higher costs to our customers.
We offer the following suggestions regarding General Permit number WMGR064:
1. The application of any gas well brine waste, whether from a conventional or unconventional well, should be prohibited within, or in close proximity to, any delineated public drinking water supply source recharge area — unless permits are obtained, water testing parameter levels are met and it is specifically approved by the water supplier. The water supplier should be empowered to adjust application rates within its delineated recharge areas to balance the potential adverse impacts on drinking water sources with the driving safety of the traveling public.
2. The application of any gas well brine waste, whether from a conventional or unconventional well, should be prohibited within the boundaries of the municipality where it is to be applied without the written approval of that municipality. The municipality should be empowered to adjust application rates to minimize the adverse impacts on high quality streams and other environmentally sensitive areas.
3. The application of flowback water and other by-products from unconventional gas well drilling operations should remain prohibited for application to roadways in Pennsylvania.

Public comments on Permit No. WMGR06 are being accepted by Scott Perry through Thursday, Nov. 17, at scwalters@state.pa.us. Phone number is 717-787-7381.

Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.


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