A volunteer water monitoring project in Centre County, PA began in 2010 with the aim to produce a baseline for the health of local streams and waterways in the county. The volunteers keep an eye on the streams because of the upswing in Marcellus Shale drilling activity in the county. If there should be accidents, or if fracking fluid should somehow find its way into local waterways, the data collected by the volunteers will prove a valuable resource for evaluating the environmental impact.
The water monitoring project is a joint effort by the Centre County chapter of the Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps, Centre County Cooperative Extension, Beech Creek Watershed Association and a Lock Haven University professor and his students. Testing started in May 2010. Except for during a few cold, winter months, two volunteer teams have been driving out to the same spots every month to collect data and water samples, which are taken to Lock Haven professor Mohamed Khalequzzaman in the department of geology and physics.*
The volunteers measure the water’s depth, pH levels, conductivity, temperature and the level of dissolved solids.
Marcellus Shale drilling is definitely on the increase in Centre County:
Natural gas exploration is on the upswing in northern Centre County. So far, 55 Marcellus Shale wells have been drilled, and about 79 have been permitted, according to the county Planning and Community Development Office. While only 12 are active so far, that number is expected grow once the gas line infrastructure is in place. An increase in drilling will also mean more roadways and traffic, and the potential for runoff from spills in undeveloped, hard-to-reach areas.*
*The Centre Daily Times (May 1, 2011) – Stewards of the region’s streams