The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), unlike the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), actively manages water withdrawals for shale drilling from the rivers and streams that are a part of its jurisdiction. The DRBC allows no water withdrawals at all—yet.
Yesterday the SRBC suspended withdrawals at 37 different locations because water levels have dropped from lack of rain. This happens periodically. Withdrawals in some locations are suspended for a time, and then allowed to restart when levels rise again. The SRBC continues to do a good job of managing water supplies throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Here’s the press release and list of affected areas:
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission today announced that 37 separate water withdrawals approved by SRBC are suspended due to localized streamflow levels dropping throughout the Susquehanna basin. The suspended withdrawals are operated by 22 companies in 7 Pennsylvania and 1 New York counties (full list provided at bottom).
Under SRBC’s passby flow restrictions, when streams drop to predetermined protected low flow levels, operators 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. Where SRBC has determined that withdrawal quantities are insignificant compared to streamflows, approvals do not contain passby restrictions.
SRBC and its regulated operators monitor real-time streamflow data generated by stream gages maintained and operated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). In 2012, SRBC’s passby requirements were initiated as early as February for certain water withdrawals in northern Pennsylvania.
Regulated operators are required to install tamper-proof water meters that automatically record their water withdrawals on a daily basis. SRBC also monitors the USGS gages daily to determine which ones are below protective thresholds, and SRBC’s field staff conducts frequent unannounced inspections to verify compliance with passby requirements.
SRBC’s existing passby restrictions are based on a 2003 policy. For several years, the agency has been working to incorporate scientific advances in ecosystem flow protection that would improve low flow protection standards associated with approved water withdrawals.
This spring, SRBC released a proposed Low Flow Protection Policy for public review and comment. SRBC proposes to use the policy and supporting technical guidance when reviewing withdrawal applications to establish limits and conditions on approvals consistent with SRBC’s regulatory standards. The proposed policy, its associated technical guidance, and options for submitting comments electronically are available on SRBC’s web site at www.srbc.net/pubinfo/businessmeeting.htm.
SRBC is encouraging the public to provide written comment on the proposed Low Flow Protection Policy by the July 16, 2012 deadline.
FOLLOWING COMPANIES AND THEIR WITHDRAWAL SOURCES SUSPENDED ON JUNE 28, 2012:
- COMPANY & WITHDRAWAL (COUNTY, STATE)
- SWEPI LP: Chemung River at Big Flats (Chemung, NY)
- Talisman Energy: Chemung River at Chemung (Chemung, NY)
- Chesapeake Appalachia: Chemung River at Barrett; Sugar Creek; (Bradford, PA)
- Healthy Properties: Sugar Creek (Bradford, PA)
- Talisman Energy: Fall Brook at Bense; Seeley Creek at Jones; Towanda Creek; Unnamed tributary of North Branch Sugar Creek; Wappasening Creek at Adriance (Bradford, PA)
- Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company: Towanda Creek (Bradford, PA)
- Towanda Country Club (Bradford, PA)
- Eagle Rock Community Association / Eagle Rock Resort Co. (Luzerne, PA)
- Clark Trucking, Northeast Division: Muncy Creek (Lycoming, PA)
- EXCO Resources: Muncy Creek at McClintock (Lycoming, PA)
- Hughesville-Wolf Township Joint Municipal Authority: Wastewater (Lycoming, PA)
- PA General Energy Company: Pine Creek at Poust (Lycoming, PA)
- XTO Energy: Lick Run; Little Muncy Creek (Lycoming, PA)
- Ultra Resources: Pine Creek (Potter, PA)
- Buck Ridge Stone: Salt Lick Creek (Susquehanna, PA)
- Carrizo (Marcellus): Unnamed tributary to Middle Branch Wyalusing Creek (Susquehanna, PA)
- Southwestern Energy Production Company: Tunkhannock Creek at Lenox (Susquehanna, PA)
- Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company: Meshoppen Creek; White Creek (Susquehanna, PA)
- Keystone Clearwater Solutions: Babb Creek (Tioga, PA)
- LDG Innovation: Lawrenceville (Tioga, PA)
- SWEPI LP: Cowanesque River at Egleston; Cowanesque River at Westfield; Tioga River at Tioga Junction (Tioga, PA)
- Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company: Unnamed tributary to North Elk Run; Tioga River (Tioga, PA)
- Ultra Resources: Cowanesque River (Tioga, PA)
- Carrizo (Marcellus): Meshoppen Creek (Wyoming, PA)
- Geary Enterprises: Buttermilk Creek (Wyoming, PA)
- Randy M. Wiernusz: Bowman Creek (Wyoming, PA)
- Sugar Hollow Trout Park and Hatchery: hatchery water (Wyoming, PA)
The Harrisburg, PA-based SRBC (www.srbc.net) is the governing agency established under a 100-year compact signed on December 24, 1970 by the federal government and the states of New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland to protect and wisely manage the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin. The Susquehanna River starts in Cooperstown, New York, and flows 444 miles to Havre de Grace, Maryland, where the river meets the Chesapeake Bay.*
*Susquehanna River Basin Commission (Jun 28, 2012) – 37 Water Withdrawals for Natural Gas Drilling and Other Uses Suspended to Protect Streams