Appalachian Basin

Beaver Run Reservoir Shows No Adverse Effects from Marcellus Drilling

Westmoreland County’s Beaver Run Reservoir supplies drinking water to roughly 130,000 residents in the region. As of 2011, it also supplies cheap natural gas from 37 Marcellus wells, which have been developed in close proximity to the reservoir. Anti-fracking groups and other critics of development have been worried the project would taint the drinking water, but after three years of testing, the water remains unaffected from shale development, according to a new report.

Over the last three years, the Energy Sustainability Initiative at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) has been monitoring surface water quality in and around Beaver Run Reservoir. According to Beaver Run Reservoir information page on the IUP website:

“Marcellus shale gas wells adjacent to the reservoir, on land leased from the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County (MAWC), have generated public concerns and are one focus of the monitoring effort. Water sampling points have been established around drilling pad sites, on major tributaries of the reservoir, and at points in the reservoir itself.”

Water monitoring began in 2011 and has occurred each year yielding similar results. Associate professor of chemistry at IUP, Nathan McElroy, had this to say about the most recent water sampling:

“We’ve found a few seasonal things, but nothing linked to drilling. The quality of the reservoir is pretty much the same quality of water throughout Pennsylvania.” (emphasis added)

Below are the data that were collected from well pads around the reservoir.

This picture shows the location of Marcellus well pads in relation to the reservoir.

With a new contract approved, IUP will continue to monitor the reservoir, and will even expand its monitoring to air quality.

These data show once again that shale development — including “fracking” — is protective of water supplies, despite the protestations and wild claims of activists throughout the Commonwealth.  And, with the safe development of our shale resources, Americans can continue to benefit from the vast benefits it brings, such as cleaner air and high-paying jobs for hard working families.

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