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Shale Gas Baseline Water Quality Study

The potential for extensive natural gas development in New York has ignited concerns regarding possible environmental impacts. While New York is no stranger to natural gas drilling, the potential for the vast development of the Marcellus shale formation combined with the use of hydraulic fracturing technology has led to increased concern about impacts on water quality in particular.

Taking a water sample
Our research group has undertaken a study to establish basic baseline water quality levels in central New York, in the event that there is a question of impact on local water resources due to natural gas drilling in the future. In some areas there are existing conventional gas wells and so we will also determine if there are any patterns between dissolved methane and distance from existing gas wells, or relationships with any other natural or topographic features. As of November 2012, about 140 water samples were taken from drinking water wells in homes across Chenango County and Broome County in central New York. These samples have been analyzed for dissolved methane gas, as well total suspended sediment, trace metals and other solutes. We hope to have preliminary results available soon.

For general information on water quality testing, go here

This work is possible through funding from the Cornell University Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and the NY Water Resources Institute. We are also grateful for assistance from staff at the Broome County and Chenango County Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, particularly in identifying volunteers who would agree to let us take water samples.

To see what other projects are going on in our research group related to shale gas research, check out this link. For more information on the Marcellus shale and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in general, check out this link for a list of references.

Please contact Lauren McPhillips about this material.

Last updated December 2012