Water Tests at PA Reservoir Show No Affects from Gas Drilling

In March 2009, the Westmoreland (PA) County Board of Supervisors voted to lease Municipal Authority property near the Beaver Run Reservoir for shale gas drilling to Dominion Resources. The original plan was to drill five wells (see this MDN story). Two years later, there are 13 working wells on the property with plans for another 14 wells. More importantly, testing done of the water in the reservoir and streams that flow into it show (gasp), there’s been no affect on the water from Marcellus drilling.

Routine water-quality checks at Beaver Run Reservoir indicate that the drilling and production of Marcellus shale wells have not affected the public drinking supply, according to officials of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

Quarterly analyses of the reservoir water have been conducted by students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for the past eight months. The authority last year paid the university $55,000 to perform the tests.

"This tells us so far there’s been no effect on the water, positively or negatively. It’s all the same to us," authority manager Chris Kerr said.

There are 13 working gas wells on land leased by the authority on the 5,000-acre reservoir property in Washington, Bell and Salem townships in the northern end of Westmoreland County.

Drilling has recently been completed for an additional 14 wells, according to John Ashton, the authority’s assistant manager.

Students from IUP’s geography and geoscience departments have collected water samples from the 1,300-acre reservoir, tributaries and streams on the property and drainage areas near the drilling pads.

Samples are being analyzed by chemistry students and results will be posted, according to IUP’s public website.

So far, the tests have found the presence of some metals and other signs of industrial activity near the reservoir, but nothing that would threaten the public’s safety, according to Brian Okey, an associate professor for geography and regional planning at IUP.

"As far as it being a risk to the public health, it is not," Okey said.*

MDN’s snarky aside: How can this be? Nasty, filthy drilling so close to a public water supply—a reservoir no less—and no impact? That’s right—no impact. No chemical “tainting” going on. No “laced” water seeping into the reservoir under the dark cover of night. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Anti-fracking hysteria is over-hyped and frankly, just not true. Westmoreland’s Beaver Run Reservoir proves it.

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Mar 11, 2012) – Gas drilling isn’t harming reservoir water, IUP tests show