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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 7, 2016 01:46 PM
From: Senator Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Water Testing Results by DEP
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce a bill pertaining to water testing and possible contamination in Pennsylvania due to Marcellus Shale drilling.

Currently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is required to test water for possible contamination due to drilling in the Marcellus Shale. However, DEP uses a lab code system specifically designed to test water around oil and gas drilling sites that ensures certain contaminants that may be in residents drinking water never be reported. Some examples of contaminants include arsenic and lead which are associated with health problems.

DEP was under scrutiny in 2013 because they only revealed the results of eight possible contaminants in Washington County even though DEP tested for 24 contaminants. This issue was brought up again more recently by the Harrisburg Patriot Newspaper in late 2015. Many individuals feel DEP intentionally leaves out the complete set of test results.

The first part of my legislation would require DEP to provide the water test results to homeowners for all parameters that they have accurately measured using their normal procedures. It is important to note that accurately is significant here since it is common for labs to get results for many additional parameters but not always to have the proper quality control on all parameters to allow for accurate reporting.

The second part of my legislation would require the DEP to post the water test results online in an aggregate method when testing for contamination due to drilling in the Marcellus Shale. My legislation will not only make water test results more transparent across the state, but at the same time, mechanisms will be put into place so that the confidentiality of homeowners’ water supply will not be compromised. Ohio and Michigan have similar policies in place where they post test results online.

This legislation was introduced in the 2015-16 as SB 257. Included as cosponsors were Senators Yudichak, Brewster, Costa, Schwank, Boscola, Blake, Farnese, Hughes, Rafferty and Williams.

Water is essential for life and we must make sure there are standards in place to keep our water free from contamination. I believe my legislation will make the drilling industry more transparent and protect the health and safety for many generations to come.

Introduced as SB335