Clean Water

February 8, 2012


No single issue is of greater importance to landowners and residents in New York State than the protection of our fresh drinking water supply.  The SGEIS recommended at least six direct mitigation/avoidance measures that should protect our residents’ fresh drinking water.


New York City has spent billions of dollars to purchase protective easements in its watershed regions to protect the aquifers that supply its unfiltered drinking water.  Some people describe New York City’s water as the best tasting water in the world. Syracuse also has an aquifer that it receives its unfiltered drinking water from.  Both of these aquifer areas will be off limits to high volume hydrofracking operations and the buffer area surrounding them will be 4,000 feet.  Although not subject to filtration avoidance, there are an additional 18 highly productive aquifers which will be off limits to surface activities through a 500 foot buffer area around these aquifers where there can be no slight disturbances.  However, the primary aquifer areas can be accessed by horizontal drilling below the 1,000 foot level.


Under the proposed new regulations, prior to drilling, operators will be required to check private wells within 1,000 feet of the drilling site to provide baseline information on the well for ongoing monitoring.  If there is no well within 1,000 feet, the survey area would extend to 2,000 feet.  This should provide landowners with the comfort of knowing that their wells will be tested and protected from degradation by the drilling process.  Additionally, any existing problem in the well can be corrected by the landowners to ensure their health and safety.  As a person who relies on well water for some use, I can say that in the 25 years since I have owned my well, I have not once tested it for contamination.  The pre-drilling test should provide information that most landowners do not have about their wells.  Additionally, the new regulations will require enhanced well casing.  That is, a third cemented “strain” of well casing will be added to the well bore to protect water resources from gas infiltration coming from the gas well bore directly into surface water wells.  To my knowledge, no other state has this requirement.

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