Community Workshop in Tioga County on Environmental and Health Impacts of Natural Gas Operations

The Clean Air Council and Penn Environment, state-wide environmental groups, will give an educational workshop in Tioga County for residents of north-central Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 24, 1-4 PM. The training will be held at the W.M. Tokishi Training Center, NYPUM Drive, Wellsboro, PA 16901.The workshop will focus on information and skills that residents can use to be aware of and participate in decisions about natural gas development. The presenters will provide an overview of how natural gas operations can potentially impact public health and the environment. They will train people on how to track and report disturbances, write comments that generate public hearings, and achieve media coverage with letters to the editor. Admission is free and light refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact Matt Walker at Clean Air Council, 215-567-4004 (ext 121) or mwalker@cleanair.org

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Advanced Waterdog Training in August

An advanced Waterdog training will take place on August 11th. Details from the flyer are below.

Hello Waterdogs,

I wanted to invite all of you to our Advanced Waterdog Training on August 11 from 5:00—9:00. This training will only be for people who have already attended the initial training. We will be hosting the training at the Ives Run Visitor’s Center. The program will be outside so please dress appropriately for walking in the grass and along the stream. Please register with Erica Tomlinson at 570-724-1801 ext 118 or etomlinson@tiogacountypa.us.

We can’t wait to see you all there!

Phone: 570-724-1801 ext 118

E-mail: etomlinson@tiogacountypa.us

P.O. Box 445

Wellsboro, Pa 16901

Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group

Tentative Agenda

Introduction – Goals & Objective

Review of Basic Waterdogging

Photos – What & How to:

Rapid Bioassessment for O&G

Sampling Water, Soil & Other – What, where, how

Field Kit

“Off the shelf” Contents

Care & Use

TDS Meter – use and calibration

QA/QC & COC – Lovegreen’s manual

Corroboration & Reporting (what to do with samples)

Adaptive Learning & commitment

Drilling Strains 911 Resposes at Tioga Court House

Being that I now live in south central PA, I listen to the WITF radio station on my way to work and back. They have been doing bits and pieces here and there about the Marcellus drilling and this month they have introduced a program called “State Impact Pennsylvania”.  So far this program seems to relate to just the gas drilling issues in PA. The first program started yesterday and the below link will take you to their page where you can read or listen to the program. Since I am from Tioga County, PA and lived in Wellsboro for years, this story was of immediate interest to me, especially having two friends that both work in the 911 center and knowing how tough this has been for them.

http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/

I feel that most of the interest and concern that have been generated of late from the NY Times and Philadelphia Inquire is coming a bit too late, based on the amount of accidents and spills that have already occurred in this region. But…better late than never.

Water Dog Training in July

I wanted to let everyone know they are planning another basic waterdog training on July 14th from 7-9 at the Tokishi Building in Wellsboro.  Please pass this on to others that may be interested.  There is also going to be another Advanced Training in August. (I will pass on more information as I get it)

Please contact Erica at the below phone number for more info or to register.

Erica Tomlinson

Watershed Specialist

Tioga County Conservation District

570-724-1801 ext 118

Water Well Owner Network Training in Wellsboro, PA

I’d like to pass this info along from the RDA —-

This just in from the Master Well Owners Network. This is a group within Penn State which trains people who have private wells. My husband and several of our friends have received this training, which we all found quite valuable. You learn about the legal and regulatory oversight  aspects of private well ownership in Pennsylvania and how they differ from public well systems. You also learn about how to manage your private well for optimum performance and to insure water you drink from it is free of the commonly known contaminants found in rural well systems. You come away from the training with new knowledge, valuable contacts and a notebook full of useful information for future reference.

As the message below indicates, the focus is not on gas drilling. However, there will be information about gas drilling impact on private wells at this session. 

The Master Well Owner training will be May 14th 9 AM – 4 PM. It will be held at the Tokishi Training Center in Wellsboro, PA. It’s free and lunch is provided. For details contact Stephanie Clemens at the phone number or email address below. Directions to the Tokishi Training Center can be found by clicking here:

Map of state land to be leased outside Wellsboro

Here is the link to the page on DCNR’s website that shows the tracks of state forest land, outside Wellsboro, PA, they intend to lease to the gas industry. It seems odd that they are only leasing the single track of land near the Asaph?

What can Tioga County residents do about water quality issues?

By AUDREY PATTERSON – Sun-Gazette Correspondent-November 2nd, 2009

WELLSBORO – Water quality issues associated with gas well drilling and its environmental impacts were at the forefront of an Oct. 21 Tiadaghton Audubon Society meeting at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center. More than 30 people attended and also learned how they can undergo training to help ensure the health of local streams.

Permits have been issued for 172 gas well drilling locations in Tioga County, and that number is expected to increase, said speakers Jim Weaver, Tioga County planner, and Ron Comstock, president of the Pine Creek Headwaters Protect Group.

“Water quality is one of our biggest concerns right now,” Weaver said. “Surface water withdrawal from local streams for ‘fracking,’ especially from sensitive wild trout streams, could have significant impacts.”

Fracking is the term given to the process of mixing water and sand to unlock gas sealed within the Marcellus Shale rock formation.

Drilling waste or “brine” – a mixture of water, salt, chemicals and natural materials – either is taken to water treatment facilities or trickled back into waterways through dilution.

Tioga County does not have brine water treatment facilities, making proper disposal another concern, Weaver said.

Attendees appeared shocked to learn that discharging brine back into waterways is legal.

Fracking materials or brine can break into aquifers, polluting underground drinking water supplies.

Such pollution affects local streams and may cause increases in water temperature, which decreases dissolved oxygen levels trout need for survival.

Water withdrawal and disposal activities also can cause a loss of habitat due to destruction of spawning areas. Surface water withdrawal is occurring at five locations in Tioga County.

Weaver encouraged citizens to speak with local representatives and encourage their support of legislation that brine water meets drinking water standards.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is responsible for issuing permits, inspections and responding to complaints about water quality.

Weaver advised participants who live near drilling sites that it “behooves all of us to get our water tested now.”

Materials that can appear at high levels in contaminated water include benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene, xylene, heavy metals, salt and radioactive materials.

He also mentioned health and safety issues associated with “free gas,” which is a natural gas that escapes from bedrock and can leak into drinking water aquifers and homes. It is odorless, colorless and highly flammable.

Homeowners wouldn’t even know if it was in their home or drinking water until it caught on fire, Weaver said.

Weaver told the county home- and landowners that they can call the Tioga County Cooperative Extension office at 724-9120 for information about water testing.

DEP will respond to concerns, he added, but without baseline data from water tests conducted before drilling, there will be no sure way to assess impacts cause by gas drilling.

Pine Creek Headwaters Protect Group is working to educate local citizens about waterways monitoring, specifically Pine Creek and its tributaries, Comstock said.

The program, called Waterdogs, trains citizens to recognize health and safety issues and environmental problems associated with gas well drilling.

Waterdogs are given a logbook and resource information that can be used if they observe a potential hazard. Training also includes proper reporting of hazards.

Gas well representatives are aware of the Waterdogs program, Comstock said, adding that the protect group hopes to train as many Waterdogs as possible.

The next training session is 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 8 at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s North Campus in Wellsboro. Advance registration is required, and a $10 fee applies.

For more information, or to register, call Eric Tomlinson at 724-1801, ext 118.

Patterson, a naturalist and author, lives in the town of Wellsboro. She may be contacted through her Web site, www.pagrandcanyon.webs.com.