Pa.’s water troubles may help New York
The biggest concern I hear from my neighbors about New York state developing natural gas has to do with drinking water protection.
While most understand the economic benefits, most feel local drinking water sources cannot be protected from natural gas development activities.
People cite drinking water quality issues using Pennsylvania as an example. However, water problems in Pennsylvania go beyond the development of the gas wells. Some water quality problems can be traced to drinking water well casings.
Water quality experts agree that the condition or type of your drinking water well casing can affect water quality. Poorly constructed water wells lead to water contamination from the surface and contamination from the aquifer. Pennsylvania drinking water wells had no construction standards. To fix that problem, some counties in Pennsylvania are now enforcing water well casing standards to further protect drinking water supplies.
The new casing standards protect drinking water from issues that result from the agitation of the aquifer that occurs when natural gas wells are drilled, and also from other potential surface-to-aquifer contaminants.
New York state already has private water well casing standards and it is expected that some of the issues that have plagued Pennsylvania will not occur. Before the natural gas industry activities came into focus, there was very little attention paid to drinking water quality.
The industry did not create some of the problems; it, however, has helped bring water quality issues related to water well construction issues to light in Pennsylvania.