Fracking Challenge to Pennsylvania Drinking Water Sources

Fracking at Drinking Water Source for 80,000 Pennsylvanians Raises Alarms

Documents and interviews reveal that one Pa. water utility has already leased its watershed to gas drillers — and many others are being courted

CNX Gas drilling site next to the Beaver Run Reservoir owned by the
Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County/Credit: Marcellus-shale.us

By Anthony Brino

InsideClimate News. Jul 19, 2011

Cynthia Walter, an ecologist at St. Vincent College outside Pittsburgh, gets a lot of emails from local wildlife enthusiasts asking about “this bird” or “that amphibian.”

But one day last year she got an uncommon request to inspect the forest cover around the Beaver Run Reservoir via Google Earth. The 1,300-acre lake is the main source of drinking water for 80,000 residents in southwestern Pennsylvania. It also rests atop the enormous Marcellus Shale gas reserve.

“Are those natural gas wells on the peninsulas?” she recalls the email sender asking.

Immediately, Walter spotted a square of barren earth on the satellite map. Later she learned that a company called CNX Gas had drilled more than a dozen wells on that bald patch from two sprawling well pads, using a controversial technique known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, to release gas trapped in layers of shale rock deep underground.

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