SRBC Temporarily Suspends Water Withdrawals for Marcellus Drilling at 36 Locations to Protect Stream Levels

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which oversees a huge watershed area that runs from Upstate New York all the way to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, is preemptively and temporarily putting water withdrawals for gas drilling on hold in parts of of the watershed because stream levels are dropping from lack of rain. Below is the full press release with a list of the 36 locations where water withdrawals have been suspended.

Press Release

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission today announced that 36 separate water withdrawals approved by SRBC are temporarily suspended due to localized stream flow levels dropping at many locations in the Susquehanna basin, especially in northern Pennsylvania.

“Once again, the Commission’s stream protection requirements are ahead of the curve and working as intended to protect aquatic resources and downstream water users,” said SRBC Executive Director Paul Swartz. “As of early this week, 36 individual water withdrawals in 10 Pennsylvania counties have been temporarily suspended by virtue of the Commission’s passby flow restrictions. The vast majority of those suspended withdrawals are related to water for natural gas development.”

Under SRBC’s passby flow restrictions, when streams drop to pre-determined protected low flow levels, project sponsors who are required to meet the agency’s passby requirement must stop taking water. They cannot resume taking water until streams have recovered above the protected level for at least 48 hours.

SRBC and its regulated project sponsors monitor real-time stream flow data generated by stream gages maintained and operated by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Regulated project sponsors also are required to install tamper-proof water meters that automatically record their water withdrawals on a daily basis. SRBC requires that information be reported to it quarterly, in addition to continuous spot-inspections by SRBC field staff working out of the field office in Sayre, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

Swartz said, “The Commission does not wait for drought declarations or phone calls from citizens to temporarily halt water withdrawals. Our system is based on science and kicks in well before streams drop to critical low levels. We base our surface and groundwater withdrawal approvals on conservative
assumptions regarding hydrologic conditions.”

Not all SRBC approvals contain passby restrictions. Those are the withdrawals where the approved withdrawal amounts are so small that they will not affect the protective levels of streams. In those cases, companies can continue to take water during low flow periods.

FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF COMPANIES AND THEIR WATER WITHDRAWAL SOURCES IN PENNSYLVANIA TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED AS OF JULY 19, 2011:

BLAIR COUNTY
Smith Transport Warehouse, Bald Eagle Creek

BRADFORD COUNTY
Chesapeake Appalachia, Chemung River (Barrett) and Sugar Creek (Isbell)
Healthy Properties, Sugar Creek
Southwestern Energy Production Company, Wyalusing Creek (Ferguson)
Talisman Energy, Fall Brook, Seeley Creek, Sugar Creek, Towanda Creek, Tributary to North Branch Sugar Creek, and Wyalusing Creek
Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Towanda Creek
Towanda Country Club, Little Wysox Creek

CLEARFIELD COUNTY
Chief Oil & Gas, Clearfield Creek
Keister Miller Investments, West Branch Susquehanna

LEBANON COUNTY
Pine Meadows Golf Complex, Little Swatara Creek

LUZERNE COUNTY
Eagle Rock Community Association, Abandoned Quarry associated with unnamed tributary to Tomhicken Creek

LYCOMING COUNTY
Hughesville-Wolf Township Joint Municipal Authority, Effluent Discharge
Pennsylvania General Energy Company, Pine Creek (Poust)
XTO Energy, Lick Run

POTTER COUNTY
Ultra Resources, Pine Creek

SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY
Chesapeake Appalachia, Elk Lake Stream
Leonard and Jean Marie Azaravich, Meshoppen Creek
Stone Energy Corp, Wyalusing Creek (Stang 1)
Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Meshoppen Creek and White Creek
Williams Production Appalachia, Snake Creek

TIOGA COUNTY
LDG Innovations, Tioga River (Losey)
Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Tioga River and Unnamed tributary of North Elk Run
Ultra Resources, Cowanesque River

WYOMING COUNTY
Geary Enterprises, Buttermilk Creek
Mountain Energy Services, Tunkhannock Creek
Randy M. Wiernusz, Bowman Creek
Sugar Hollow Trout Park and Hatchery, Hatchery Effluent
Susquehanna Gas Field Services, Meshoppen Creek

*Susquehanna River Basin Commission Press Release (Jul 19, 2011) – 36 Water Withdrawals for Natural Gas Drilling and Other Purposes on Hold to Protect Streams