Pennsylvania American Water Position on Marcellus Shale Drilling
Pennsylvania American Water understands the significant potential that the Marcellus Shale gas formation represents for the citizens of Pennsylvania. Economic opportunity for communities, well-paying jobs, independence from foreign oil and an affordable energy source are important benefits, and Pennsylvania American Water joins others who want to see gas drilling successfully deliver these benefits. However, the opportunities must be balanced with concern for the environment, especially the state’s drinking water resources.
Therefore, we believe that appropriate protections are necessary, so that gas-drilling companies and associated industries act responsibly and strictly adhere to all federal Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations. Without strict protection and regulatory compliance, water supply and quality could be adversely affected, placing the financial risk and burden on Pennsylvania American Water and its customers for additional measures to address drilling’s effects.
Pennsylvania American Water is committed to providing quality, reliable water service to customers and will do everything in its power to prevent the degradation of our sources of drinking water. On a daily basis, our certified plant operators monitor the raw source water at our treatment facilities. In addition, where drilling is proposed near tributaries that supply our primary water sources, we conduct water sampling on a frequent basis to establish baseline data prior to any drilling activity.
Pennsylvania American Water relies on regulatory agencies, such as the DEP, Delaware River Basin Commission and Susquehanna River Basin Commission, to review permit requests from gas drillers and to properly allocate both surface and groundwater sources to all users within the basin, so that ample quantities of water are available for all users.
Pennsylvania American Water strongly supports the need for greater transparency and information-sharing in regard to Marcellus Shale drilling permits. Current laws and regulations do not provide for water suppliers to be alerted or have the opportunity to provide input during the review of permits in close proximity to our sources of supply. We have publicly supported the need for regulations and/or legislation that notifies and enables water suppliers to express comments and concerns – during the permit review process -- about the potential impact on water sources.
Furthermore, we have met with and provided input to legislators on provisions to help protect drinking water sources. These recommendations include setback requirements, prohibition of drilling under reservoirs, and mandated emergency response and contingency plans in place before drilling occurs. We have also recommended to DEP that water source replacement plans be submitted as part of the permit application process.
In the meantime, we are staying in close communication with DEP personnel and monitoring media reports to understand where drilling might occur in our watersheds. Pennsylvania American Water will continue to work cooperatively with regulatory agencies, legislators and municipalities to ensure that proper safeguards are in place to protect our water resources. Again, Pennsylvania American Water realizes that the Marcellus Shale gas reserves offer significant positive economic potential, but we must strike the right balance by ensuring that this opportunity can be achieved while protecting the environment for the next generation of Pennsylvanians.