McKean County Conservation District Receives Grant to Monitor Stream Water Quality

The Colcom Foundation has awarded $900,000 in grants from its “Marcellus Environmental Fund” to 11 environmental and citizen groups in the state out of the 80 proposals submitted asking for a combined $7 million.  The environmentally minded foundation launched the $1 million Marcellus fund in December, saying it wanted to support air and water quality monitoring and education around Marcellus Shale issues. Since then, it has upped the ante to $1.3 million in fund reserves.

The McKean County Conservation District will be utilizing these funds to install real-time data loggers to monitor stream quality and flow before, during, and after Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations.  Water quality data loggers will be deployed in streams where drilling operations are occurring and/or planned. This funding will significantly compliment the existing surface water assessment and monitoring efforts in the County.

According to Heather McKean, Watershed Conservationist with the District, the data loggers will be placed in streams throughout the county and will gather crucial baseline water quality data. The District has completed two large stream assessment projects that included eight streams and their tributaries with a third project planned to begin this year. These assessments and water quality monitoring projects help prioritize restoration projects and protect high quality watersheds.

This funding was also utilized for the Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance, Dirt and Gravel Road workshop, held March 8th in Smethport to further educate the oil and gas and timber industries on road building best management practices.

Colcom’s VP of Philanthropy John Rohe issued this statement: “Western Pennsylvania’s sensitivity to Marcellus drilling has been communicated by the grant applications. Our region perceives a relationship between the benefit of turning on a light bulb and the corresponding risk of turning toxins loose in the environment. If the community and the Commonwealth cannot expect highest standards for shale drilling, then the room illuminated by energy today could dim the prospects for health tomorrow.”

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