PCPG Provides Testimony On Water Well Standards BillPosted 24 April: On April 17, 2013, PCPG Director Jim LaRegina, PG, provided testimony to the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, supporting legislation to adopt construction standards for new private water wells. Mr. LaRegina testified that “PCPG recommends that House Bill 343 apply to any and all water wells drilled and/or constructed in the Commonwealth without limitation.” To download PCPG's oral testimony, click HERE.
New USGS Publication: Arsenic in Pennsylvania GroundwaterPosted 24 April: USGS released its findings on arsenic levels in 5,023 industrial, public, and private water supply wells collected between 1969 and 2007. The report suggests that eight percent of the wells tested contain arsenic at or above federal standards set for public drinking water, while an additional 12 percent – though not exceeding standards – show elevated levels of arsenic. The groundwater quality and environmental factors were used to generate statewide and regional maps that predict the probability of elevated arsenic. To view the abstract and to download the Report, click HERE.
PAGS and PCPG Complete Technical Rebuttal to Article Claiming a Link between Hydraulic Fracturing and Groundwater Contamination
Posted 12 April: In joint collaboration, the Pennsylvania Geological Survey (PAGS) and the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists (PCPG) have prepared a detailed technical rebuttal to Potential Contaminant Pathways from Hydraulically Fractured Shale to Aquifers by Tom Myers (Ground Water Vol. 50, Issue 6, Nov-Dec 2012).
The rebuttal was initiated based upon comments from our peers indicating that the Myers’ article was not grounded in scientific objectivity. As a result, we feared that the article’s conclusions would be used to further advance misinformation circulated regarding the shale gas industry. In our initial review (see PCPG's 4th quarter newsletter) it was determined that the article’s conclusions were based only on a limited groundwater model that contained minimal real world data. Still, the article concluded that hydraulic fracturing “could allow transport of contaminants from fractured shales to aquifers, that the presented model “accurately and realistically simulated long-term steady state flow conditions”, and that contamination of aquifers may occur “in less than 10 years.”
We found such conclusions to be highly questionable, especially when based solely on an uncalibrated and unrealistically constructed computer simulation. Upon further examination we found the article to be lacking in numerous technical areas. This compelled our team of cross-disciplinary scientists to do a thorough review and detailed literature research to assess the claims made. The result is a detailed white paper where we have identified the weaknesses of Myers’ model and have addressed each of them in turn. The rebuttal is grounded on scientifically vetted studies and peer-reviewed papers that directly tackle the articles’ presented conclusions.
The joint PAGS / PCPG rebuttal can be downloaded from PCPG’s shale gas page found HERE.
PA natural gas production increases in 2012 despite reduced drilling
Posted April 8: The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, there was a 69% increase in natural gas production in Pennsylvania, despite the reduction in the number of new natural gas wells installed. A backlog of previously drilled wells, though not online, as well as improved drilling and well completion techniques are cited as a few examples of contributing factors to higher overall production. Read MORE.
Long-Term Average Evapotranspiration Rates Mapped by U.S. Geological Survey
Posted 28 Feb: Knowing evapotranspiration rates can be a very useful tool when planning a new water use project. These rates are a key component to a water budget calculation and help to better understand how much water is available in a specific area. To view a new USGS evapotranspiration rates map of the U.S. click HERE.