Impact of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling on the Monongahela River

Note: UMRA does not maintain that information is completely accurate in the items referenced here. Commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or policy of the Upper Monongahela River Association. We are providing unchecked information because there are many unresolved questions, and while some of the material is inflammatory or incorrect, it is important to understand the variety of positions on the issues.

If you wish to follow news on Marcellus Shale development on a daily basis, you should check these sites:
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The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has run a major series on Marcellus Shale in our region. See the following:

Chesapeake Energy Videos

Chesapeake Energy's "Ask Chesapeake" website has several videos which explain the Marcellus well stages. These may be found at

US EPA Letter to PA DEP on Marcellus Shale - 7 March 2011

Interactive Marcellus Shale map created, posted online

11 March 2011

Geologists at the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey in Morgantown have created an interactive online map of the Marcellus Shale field and its natural gas deposits to accommodate growing public interest in West Virginia gas drilling.

The map shows completed and permitted well sites, thickness and depth of shale, and other information. The map should be updated monthly.

You can access the map through a link at:

4 Videos on Marcellus Drilling

"Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling and Water (1)"-
Ron Bishop, lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry at SUNY Oneonta, gives an overview of natural gas extraction technology and explain how water contamination can occur during the gas drilling process.

"Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling and Water (2)"-
Steve Penningroth, Executive Director of the state-certified water testing laboratory at the Community Science Institute in Ithaca, describes how to test private and municipal water wells so that landowners and municipal officials can discover problems and have solid scientific baseline water data that will stand up in court should contamination occur.

"Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling and Water (3)"-
Andrew Byers, a farmer/botanist from Newfield who has been studying gas drilling issues, describes how community members who are knowledgeable about these issues can take action.

"Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling and Water (Q&A)"-

UMRA's Letters to WV Governor Manchin and WV DEP chief Huffman

UMRA has written to WV G0overnor Joe Manchin and Randy C. Huffman, Secretary, WV Department of Environmental Protection emphasizing our belief that a comprehensive approach to regulating drilling in the Marcellus Shale must be developed. Specifically, we feel that regulations and information to monitor and control the impacts of MS gas wells in West Virginia are needed. You can read our letter by clicking the link above.

Natural Gas Drilling = A River Issue ?

Few people would ever guess that drilling for natural gas could significantly affect the movement of river barges, but recent events suggest otherwise. In late October water analyses in the mid-Monongahela valley indicated high levels of dissolved solids. To reduce dangers to pubic water supplies and fish populations, the Corps of Engineers increased releases from Tygart and Stonewall Jackson lakes. The Corps was able to do so for only a short period because of the need to supply water for downstream navigation. The lake levels are low and recreational boat access to Tygart Lake was threatened. 

Newspaper reports say that the initial alarms came from riverside industries, not governmental monitoring. Both Allegheny Power's electric plant at Masontown, PA and the U.S. Steel Clairton coke plant suddenly recorded high total dissolved solids (TDS) in their cooling water.

Preliminary analysis suggested that the threat came from large truck deliveries of waste water from gas well drilling in the Marcellus Shales to sanitary waste plants discharging, directly or indirectly, into the Monongahela River.

Sections on this topic:

  1. The Incident in the Monongahela River - October through December 2008
  2. Regional Planning for Marcellus Gas Drilling & Frac Water Disposal
  3. General Information on the Marcellus Shales and Gas Production
  4. General Information on Water Quality Issues Related to Gas Drilling & Production

Additional raw data for the Monongahela River basin can be found through our River Monitoring page.