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).

  • dontletgreedwin

    test your water at your own cost? let your dumbass greedy gas leasing neighbor pay for it!

  • Jim

    dontletgreedwin: I understand these issues tend to bring out intense emotions, so I’ll chalk up your remarks as that, intense emotions. If you read the quote, it says most drilling companies are paying for testing for nearby residences up to nearly half a mile away. However, every household with an active drilling operation in the vicinity would do well to be informed about what kind of water testing can, and should be done. Which was the point of this post.

  • Baseline testing is critical, but it is not one package fits all areas. In some areas, there are contaminants at or near the drinking water limit and it may be necessary to develop a custom baseline test to meet the situation, local geology, and surrounding land-use. If you are interested in a listing of potential parameters, visit our site and just ask. The PSU fact sheet is a good start, but it may not meet all your needs.