Monongahela River Watershed Meeting

17 August 2010

UMRA, the Upper Monongahela River Association, invited all watershed groups within the Monongahela River basin to attend a meeting on 17 August 2010 at the Morgantown Airport. The statements below were adopted by consensus.

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We recognize the value of mineral extraction, including oil, gas and water, in the Monongahela basin when conducted responsibly.

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The West Virginia and Pennsylvania DEPs must enact commensurate and enforceable standards and rules/regulations and adequate penalties to protect regional water resources from potential hazards caused by mineral extraction and oil and gas drilling, including but not limited to sedimentation, water withdrawal, organic and inorganic chemicals and thermal effects.

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The West Virginia and Pennsylvania DEPs must hire an additional and adequate number of inspectors and other staff to effectively monitor and enforce regulations governing mining and the oil and gas well industries.

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A Resolution Concerning "Blowback Pit" Construction on Marcellus Well Sites

WHEREAS, a significant component of a Marcellus gas well construction site is the "blowback pit", which receives contaminated water originally used in the shale fracturing process, and;

WHEREAS, blowback water contains dissolved solids concentrations which can vary between 70,000ppm and over 200,000ppm (parts per million) as well as chemicals utilized in the fracturing process and having harmful environmental and human health potential, and;

WHEREAS, current legislation often limits the lining of blowback pits to a single HDPE liner, offering little protection from percolation of the blowback water into the soil and groundwater, and;

WHEREAS, current legislation minimally regulates pit construction in a manner that would ensure the structural integrity of the facility, sometimes resulting in the massive discharge of blowback water into a receiving stream;

NOW, BE IT RESOLVED that the Upper Monongahela watershed groups advocate that the state environmental agency responsible for permitting such well-development sites require the use of sufficient natural or geosynthetic protection to both contain the blowback water and to prevent its percolation into the soil or groundwater beneath the pit should the containment liner become ruptured. Further, we advocate the usage of regulation typically found in state dam safety statutes in order to ensure that blowback pits are properly sited and constructed, and that emergency contact/notification procedures are implemented when an accident involving the release of blowback water occurs.

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Now be it resolved that the Upper Monongahela watershed groups advocate that closed-loop system for containment of blowback water be required at all new construction gas well drilling sites rather than the open pit system of containment.