Pennsylvania Public Radio’s Mary Wilson takes a look at public comments about water withdrawal permits the Susquehanna River Basin Commission recently issued to natural gas drillers:
Public hearings at the Susquehanna River Basin Commission aren’t two-way affairs. So commissioners were silent as one man voiced his concern at the latest meeting that the natural gas industry’s water withdrawals would deplete streams and endanger wildlife. They might have pointed out a common misperception underlying the man’s testimony.
Andrew Dehoff manages project review at the commission and says the bigger issue isn’t how much water drillers are taking, but where they want to get it.
“When we receive a request to, for a withdrawal of water from a smaller, more sensitive stream, we really have to look at it very closely and put some restrictive conditions on if it can be approved at all,” said Dehoff. He added drillers often want to withdraw water close to where they’re fracking, and the SRBC prefers water to be pulled from less pristine streams or larger water sources.
While hydraulic fracturing gets the most public attention, natural gas drillers within the Susquehanna River Basin actually withdraw about 11 percent of what power plants use each day. The drilling industry uses about 10.4 million gallons of water a day, according to SRBC data. Dauphin County’s Three Mile Island, on the other hand, takes out 19.2 million gallons on its own.
Manufacturing uses about 8 million gallons of river basin water each day, and water supply companies withdraw about 9 million.