Testing Your Water – Advice for Landowners in the Marcellus Shale

WaterWorld (undated, accessed Feb 24)
Testing the waters

Drilling activity is tightly regulated everywhere it’s done, including Pennsylvania. Water supplies located near drilling are regularly tested to ensure the water is not being contaminated. If a resident lives within 1,000 feet of a well being drilled, the cost of testing is funded by the drilling company. Local testing company Benchmark Analytics from South Waverly, PA had these useful remarks for landowners in an article published on the WaterWorld website:

Many residents have contacted Benchmark to establish a "baseline" prior to gas drilling activity. The baseline tests are important to establish the water quality at a specific site prior to any gas well activity, [Laboratory Manager Kay] Shimer said. Natural gas producers are required to establish a baseline for any water source within 1,000 feet of a gas well, she said, though some companies test residents’ water within 1,500 or 2,000 feet. If people have any questions about whether they qualify for testing through a gas producer they should contact the well drilling company in their area, she said. The sampling and testing is done by an independent laboratory, she said, and Benchmark has completed some testing for gas producers.

Homeowners should not collect their own water samples, Shimer said; an independent third-party sampling agency or field technicians from a certified laboratory should do the sampling. Benchmark field technicians do some sampling, Shimer said, though gas producers typically hire independent agencies to sample water sources near their well projects.

Shimer also recommends landowners read the publication by Penn State University called Water Facts #28 – Gas Well Drilling and Your Private Water Supply (available for free download on the MDN Links & Resources page).