Commission requires gas drillers to obtain approval for water use

CHENANGO COUNTY – The Susquehanna River Basin Commission announced last week that as of Oct. 15, natural gas companies will be required to obtain prior approval before using water for drilling purposes.

The Susquehanna River Basin covers territories in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The agency was set up to “enhance public welfare through comprehensive planning, water supply allocation, and management of the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin,” according to its mission statement.

Prior to the announcement last week, SRBC regulations required prior approval of water withdrawn from the river basin area if it exceeded 100,000 gallons a day, or 25,000 gallons a day for consumptive use.

“This is the first time the executive director has ever imposed such a regulation on an entire class of projects,” said SRBC Director of Communications Susan Obleski. Executive Director Paul Swartz is authorized to add the additional provisions because of the possibility the gas drilling could have an “adverse, cumulative adverse or interstate effect” on water resources, Obleski explained.

The commission was concerned that the amount of water used in the gas drilling could possibly lower the groundwater or stream flows, affect other water uses, affect fish, wildlife or other living resources or their habitat and affect low flow of perennial or intermittent streams.

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