New Bill Would Set Statewide Water Well Standards

  • Scott Detrow

A Republican state lawmaker is wading into the politically contentious issue of standards for private water wells.
York County Republican Ron Miller says guidelines for private wells could limit both naturally-occurring and natural gas drilling-related methane migration, as Pennsylvania Public Radio’s Mary Wilson reports:

“Many of my college roommates and friends were from the northern tier, and there were stories then of people who could hold a match to their faucet and light the water on fire,” said Miller.  “Natural gas migration– it exists.  It existed long before the Marcellus gas wells were drilled, long before fracking.”
Natural gas migration is one of the problems Miller said could be avoided if the state had better rules governing how private water wells are drilled.  He’s proposing new construction standards, something that has been tried and failed in the past ten years.  Past efforts to regulate private water wells have been mired in controversy – controversy that Miller said has long been based on a misconception.
“It wasn’t true, but what was alleged at the time was that people would be charged for usage of their well-water.  That absolutely wasn’t true at that time and is absolutely not true now.”
In fact, said Miller, a 2002 Pennsylvania law prohibits the state from metering private wells.

Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended private well standards, but previous attempts to impose statewide guidelines have failed. Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, a Republican who represents a rural district, told StateImpact this summer that a bill like Miller’s will never pass. “You want to see a revolt? You start telling peo­ple back in these rural areas that you’ve got to have a cer­tain stan­dard, mon­i­tored. That’s just not going to fly in rural Pennsylvania.”

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