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The Susquehanna River Basin Commission: Guide to Who They Are and What They Do

Background

The Suquehanna River Basin Commission regulates water use by natural gas drillers operating in central Pennsylvania.

The commission governs water withdrawal and consumptive use along the Susquehanna River and its tributaries. It also helps coordinate state and federal-level environmental efforts within the river’s 27,500-mile watershed.

A 1970 federal law created the compact, which is made up of representatives from Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and the U.S. governments. Each state’s governor has a representative on the commission’s board, though an executive director oversees much of the SRBC’s day-to-day activity and enforcement efforts.

On its website, the SRBC defines its mission as:

“[enhancing] public welfare through comprehensive planning, water supply allocation, and management of the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin.

To accomplish this mission, the SRBC works to: reduce damages caused by floods; provide for the reasonable and sustained development and use of surface and ground water for municipal, agricultural, recreational, commercial and industrial purposes; protect and restore fisheries, wetlands and aquatic habitat; protect water quality and instream uses; and ensure future availability of flows to the Chesapeake Bay.”

The SRBC focuses on maintaining the Susquehanna River basin’s water quantity; preventing flooding; and protecting the Chesapeake Bay (the river is its largest tributary).

When it comes to natural gas drilling, the SRBC regulates water withdrawals and consumptive uses. Hydraulic fracturing requires large amounts of water, and drillers typically acquire the fluid from nearby streams, creeks and rivers. The SRBC makes sure they’re not taking too much at once. When dry spells lower water levels, the commission imposes withdrawal moratoriums.

While the SRBC regulates water withdrawals and consumption, it doesn’t have as much broad authority to oversee drillers as the Delaware River Basin Commission, and does not regulate water quality.

Latest Posts

SRBC Defends its Limited Role in Overseeing Water Quantity

When it comes to Marcellus Shale Gas development, the differences between the Delaware River Basin Commission and its central Pennsylvania counterpart, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, are stark. The DRBC has been the force behind a drilling moratorium in Northeast Pennsylvania and southern New York. But the Susquehanna River Basin Commission has not weighed in [...]

State Lifts Western Pennsylvania Drought Watch

Steady August rain has improved Pennsylvania’s drought conditions, and the Department of Environmental Protection is now lifting a drought watch it imposed on 15 western counties in mid-July. While water withdrawal moratoriums are still being enforced within the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, DEP Secretary Michael Krancer issued a statement saying water levels have risen in the west. [...]

Susquehanna River Basin Commission Weighs Issuing More Water Permits To Drillers

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 [...]

What Low Water Levels Mean For Pennsylvania

Worried about Pennsylvania’s low water levels? Listen to today’s Radio Smart Talk on witf, which featured interviews with experts from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission: Last year was one the wettest on record in some Pennsylvania communities.  All you have to is remember last fall’s flooding after Tropical Storm [...]

SRBC Lifts Water Withdrawal Suspensions

Last week the Susquehanna River Basin Commission suspended water withdrawals in five counties. That means natural gas drillers were barred from taking water out of the Susquehanna and its tributaries. Since hydraulic fracturing uses millions of gallons of water at a time, this suspension slowed down operations for some companies. It rained over the weekend, [...]

SRBC Suspension Slows Talisman Operations

An update on the  Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s temporary ban on water withdrawals at locations in five counties: at least one natural gas driller is scaling back operations, due to the restrictions. Drillers, of course, use millions of gallons of water at a time during hydraulic fracturing operations. According to Reuters, Talisman will slow down [...]

SRBC Suspends Water Withdrawal In 5 Counties

A lack of winter snowfall and a dry spring have led to drought-like conditions in Pennsylvania, and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission has responded by temporarily banning water withdrawals at sites in five counties. The new restrictions take effect in Bradford, Luzerne, Lycoming, Susquehanna and Tioga County, and will impact 10 natural gas drilling companies, [...]

Protests, But No Arrests, At SRBC Hearing

Yesterday, we told you fracktivists were ready to protest at this morning’s Susquehanna River Basin Commission meeting in Harrisburg. The SRBC approves water withdrawal permits for natural gas drillers, and recently issued new guidelines aimed at limiting protests at its meetings. As Pennsylvania Public Radio’s Mary Wilson reports, there was sound but no fury at [...]

Burning Questions: What’s What, When It Comes To Water?

This week, StateImpact is answering reader-submitted burning questions about natural gas drilling. On Monday, we tackled water testing. Yesterday, we took a look at an issue that popped up after August’s Virginia earthquake: whether or not fracking can lead to seismic disturbances. Today’s topic: water.  We received several questions about water: how much is used [...]

SRBC Withdrawal Moratorium Still In Effect, Post-Hurricane

Even with a tropical storm and near-record rainfall in August, water levels at 15 central Pennsylvania locations are still too low for withdrawals. 11 of these streams provide water for natural gas drillers, according to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which oversees water use in the Susquehanna and its tributaries. Here’s the SRBC’s latest update [...]

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