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Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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If this has been previously posted, I apologize. I found this and thought it might be useful.

http://www.mtwatershed.com/resources/ ... ual_Assessment_Manual.pdf


Also, I have been reading articles regarding the fracking of Utica shale. The Utica shale is deeper than the Marcellus and covers more area.

http://www.fractracker.org/2011/01/utica-shale.html

Posted on: 2011/1/25 17:28


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual
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Quote:

David wrote:

Also, I have been reading articles regarding the fracking of Utica shale. The Utica shale is deeper than the Marcellus and covers more area.

http://www.fractracker.org/2011/01/utica-shale.html


I think our greatest concern is the drilling through and possible contamination of aquifers proper, and other fissures or soft-mantle (is that what it is called, David?) that can leach easily into aquifers. Of course this risk is present in wells deeper than the Marcellus formation, but once we get below this level which interacts with surface features, it isn't any worse of a problem.

Solve these issues:

1. how to get down without contamination;
2. how to seal off from contamination any areas that can leach into groundwater or which directly pass through aquifers;
3. how to identify sub-surface geological features before the decision to drill is made and regulate against drilling the bore through critical areas;
4. how to draw, use and dispose of the fluids/water used in the process.
5. how to guarantee to the citizens and landowners that any damage caused will be promptly reported/discovered, drilling abated, remediation takes place immediately, all at the pre-paid expense of the drilling concern.

Posted on: 2011/1/25 19:08
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Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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Looking at the map , after zooming and checking it out , it occurs to me that the WHOLE of lake ERIE sits on this stuff. I can see them attempting to get at this somehow , also , keep in mind , ERIE is considered shallow as lakes go. Another thing that JUMPS out is that Canada has a bunch also , i'm gonna do a little research and see what their regs and rules and such are and if i find anything interesting i'll get it on here. Thank you for the info and the maps , both of you are , like me , "On point" thank goodness there are folks like y'all , JackM #4 in the list is gonna be a "De-watering" problem at some point , weather will play into it and i'll bet they don't take that into consideration like they should. If we have a drought summer , like we do , they will take the water no matter what the paper they signed said.

Posted on: 2011/1/26 6:18


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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if I recall properly, most of erie runs about 75 feet deep. I think that's what the depth finder said most of the time when I would walleye fish, even 25+ miles out, which is about in the middle.
oh yeah, the lake will serve no problem, and they will have plenty of water to frac with!!
the thought just sickens me.

Posted on: 2011/1/26 6:35


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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David, that mtwatershed link is great, thanks for posting. I'm gonna print out some copies to give to folks that ask questions.

Posted on: 2011/1/26 6:39


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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Jack,

Your comparison of Marcellus vs. Utica is exactly the same as the comparison of shallow gas vs. Marcellus that I always get beat up for in this forum.

We've had shallow gas for many years. Marcellus doesn't come anywhere near interacting with surface features, it's below sea level! The depth of the gas in shallow wells likewise come nowhere near interacting with surface features and aquifers. Both, of course, must go through levels that do.

Shallow wells are deeper than the aquifer and must seal the top layers, they do hydrofrac so they must also deal with drawing water, treating water, etc. All the same dangers. We have literally hundreds of thousands of them in PA already, far more of them than we're ever slated to get with Marcellus.

That said, those who criticize me do have some points, which I freely admit. As you go deeper, there aren't new dangers, but the ramifications of the existing ones are more severe, and I don't think that trend would change between Marcellus and Utica.

#1. The deeper you go, the more water you need. That means the more water you must draw, and the more fluids you must treat. In the case of treatment, if in small amounts dilution is sufficient, it may not be sufficient in larger amounts.

#2. The deeper you go, the more pressure you need for fracking. That means the caps and groundwater seals will be under much greater pressure and more likely to break, and breakage of seals is how you contaminate aquifers with frac fluids and methane. Materials that withstand these pressures exist, but are expensive. That means you have to have the regulations in place to make sure the drilling companies spend the extra dime to do it right, instead of accepting more accidents to keep costs down. From the link, it seems our friends in Quebec failed this part. I fear we are doing the same in PA with Marcellus. Obviously our friends in Dimock agree.

#3. The deeper you go, the larger your pad size must be. Everything is up-sized. You need more pipe, more trucks, more people, more traffic on roads, etc. That means clearing of more lands. That means bigger holding ponds. Everything is bigger, and more intrusive.

So, the difficulties of moving from Marcellus to Utica are EXACTLY the same as from moving from shallow gas to Marcellus.

Posted on: 2011/1/26 13:12


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual
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I stand corrected somewhat. My point, if it remains valid, is that solving the encasement issues and draw and dispose issues for Marcellus ought to solve it for the deeper wells too. If we get this right, we ought to be 99% on the path to right for the deeper driling as well.

Posted on: 2011/1/26 14:35
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Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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My point, if it remains valid, is that solving the encasement issues and draw and dispose issues for Marcellus ought to solve it for the deeper wells too.


It is no more valid than saying that solving the encasement and draw and dispose issues for shallow gas wells ought to have solved it for Marcellus wells too.

People act like this is all some new thing that we've never done before. Not at all. Same procedure, just scaled up. But scaling up is more complicated than it sounds.

The idea of what we have to do sounds the same. We have to make sure we draw water in places and times that streamflows won't fall too much. We have to make sure we seal the hole so that frac fluid and methane don't get in the water table. We have to treat the water so that the amount of impurities being added to the rivers isn't too high. Same ole, same ole.

We "solved" all of it years ago! But the solutions this time around will be different. Sure, we learn something at each step, but there's a lot of differences.

With higher volumes of water, you have to be a little more careful about where and when you draw it, and larger volumes of wastewater require more treatment plants, and likely better treatment plants, so that the total impurities being added to waterways doesn't increase. Adding 1000 gallons with a certain level of impurities to waterways is nothing compared to adding a million. And likewise with the pressures and the sealing, what worked for one pressure may not work with another. So you change the materials used, thicken the walls, or whatever has to be done to account for it. Since the companies don't want to spend that kind of money, you have to change the regulations, which still state wall thicknesses and materials that were sufficient for shallow wells.

The same will be true with scaling up even further to Utica. So, say we change the regs to be sufficient for Marcellus. Ok, so now wall thicknesses and materials of the seal, water treatment guidelines, withdrawel guidelines, etc. are good to go, right? No, when Utica comes along, they have even higher pressures, need to withdraw more water, need to treat more water, etc. You gotta change those regs again to account for it all.

Same problems with all 3 types. But as you scale up, you gotta make the solutions to those problems more robust, and the impact from failing to do so are more severe.

Posted on: 2011/1/26 15:08


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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It's probably all going to be a de-watering event on many streams.
The primary sealant is concrete and concrete has a half life of roughly 100 years. We've all seen what salt water does to concrete so I'm not so sure that concrete is going to seal anything very long, it a very real issue. There's a ton of briny water or salt water that flows up from the fracting.
There is a certain amount that doesn't come out but I'm pretty sure non knows where it will go when they are drilling in PA because this IS fairly new technology in spite of what some have said. Fracking deep gas wells is new in PA and the geology is very different in PA from other states that already have hydrofacting. There is simply too much that is unknown about this to dive in willy nilly and the hillbillies from the oil companies can't or tell us what to expect. They will tell us anything we want to hear just to get to the gas.
What is the benefit to the average PA citizen, probably nothing and in fact it will impact anyony that has a camp in the mountains north of Blue Mt.(Kittatinny Ridge).
Anyone that believes that thousands of job will be created for Pennsylvania's I've got a bridge to sell you.

Posted on: 2011/1/26 17:24
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Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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Fracking deep gas is new in PA, but fracking is not new in PA. The water stays down there. The question is the seals, as you said. If they break, you contaminate the water.....

Posted on: 2011/1/26 19:37


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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Older wells that go out of service are supposed to be plugged. When they aren't and the casing starts to fail from old age the main problem is that any aquifer that the hole goes through drains water from the aquifer. When a failure occurs from age it rarely is a massive failure, generally it just starts to leak. There is no significant pressure that causes a flow that would circulate the water back into the aquifer of any amount.

It would be interesting to see if they conducted a failure analysis of the well that caused the Dimock problem. The primary risk to the aquifer comes as they are fracking. That's the time of highest risk to the water table.

Of all the problems associated with the drilling I believe the only one not solvable with proper processes is the impact of the high truck traffic on the mountain roads.

Posted on: 2011/1/26 22:14


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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Of all the problems associated with the drilling I believe the only one not solvable with proper processes is the impact of the high truck traffic on the mountain roads.


I agree. Well, I'll add another unavoidable one. Clearing land for the pads and access roads to the pads. They do a lot of landscaping, it's a muddy mess while the drillers are still on site, and that leads to siltation problems that I don't think can be totally avoided. They're supposed to have some sediment controls in place, but that only goes so far. It's a form of development, it is what it is.

Then again, we're agreeing on what is solvable. Not necessarily on what they will actually implement. Thats the battle that we need to fight. The problem is I see a lot of their opponents fighting the wrong battles.

As far as fracking, it's going to happen, you're not gonna stop it now. It's been happening for years and it isn't new at all. Without it you have no gas drilling. Stop being outraged at whats in the stuff. Yes, its in there, it's always been in there. But if the controls work, it stays in there and not in our streams. I'm tired of the meaningless rants.

So whats the best way to make sure the controls work? Taxation? Nope, that will worsen the problem. Yeah, the gov gets money but the companies have less and are even stingier on the engineering solutions, there's no reward in it for doing good.

Regulations and monitoring, thats the necessary answer, and all to be paid for by back-breaking fines. Make sure they use the best materials for the seals and the holding ponds, make sure there's rules to follow for simple stuff. Make sure the withdrawal permits are specific and tight. Make sure the water is sent to the proper treatment plants, and if needed, require them to build more/better treatment plants. Make sure the outflow from the treatment plants doesn't go above a certain flow rate and a well defined amount of impurities. From start to finish, define the rules in detail.

Then monitor it closely, and make the punishment severe for every screw up. This isn't a new industry, its a mature business. So make sure the companies act like it. Make sure its cheaper to be "robust" than to just go at it like a gold rush. Why do you think its huge corporations that drill for oil? It's because there's a legally established procedure for everything, at least in the U.S. Only big, robust companies with full engineering teams have the resources to meet such a high standard. Why should gas be any different?

And sorry to say, I think we've done a poor job so far.

Posted on: 2011/1/27 11:06


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
Quote:
Of all the problems associated with the drilling I believe the only one not solvable with proper processes is the impact of the high truck traffic on the mountain roads.


I agree. Well, I'll add another unavoidable one. Clearing land for the pads and access roads to the pads. They do a lot of landscaping, it's a muddy mess while the drillers are still on site, and that leads to siltation problems that I don't think can be totally avoided. They're supposed to have some sediment controls in place, but that only goes so far. It's a form of development, it is what it is.

Then again, we're agreeing on what is solvable. Not necessarily on what they will actually implement. Thats the battle that we need to fight. The problem is I see a lot of their opponents fighting the wrong battles.

As far as fracking, it's going to happen, you're not gonna stop it now. It's been happening for years and it isn't new at all. Without it you have no gas drilling. Stop being outraged at whats in the stuff. Yes, its in there, it's always been in there. But if the controls work, it stays in there and not in our streams. I'm tired of the meaningless rants.

So whats the best way to make sure the controls work? Taxation? Nope, that will worsen the problem. Yeah, the gov gets money but the companies have less and are even stingier on the engineering solutions, there's no reward in it for doing good.

Regulations and monitoring, thats the necessary answer, and all to be paid for by back-breaking fines. Make sure they use the best materials for the seals and the holding ponds, make sure there's rules to follow for simple stuff. Make sure the withdrawal permits are specific and tight. Make sure the water is sent to the proper treatment plants, and if needed, require them to build more/better treatment plants. Make sure the outflow from the treatment plants doesn't go above a certain flow rate and a well defined amount of impurities. From start to finish, define the rules in detail.

Then monitor it closely, and make the punishment severe for every screw up. This isn't a new industry, its a mature business. So make sure the companies act like it. Make sure its cheaper to be "robust" than to just go at it like a gold rush. Why do you think its huge corporations that drill for oil? It's because there's a legally established procedure for everything, at least in the U.S. Only big, robust companies with full engineering teams have the resources to meet such a high standard. Why should gas be any different?

And sorry to say, I think we've done a poor job so far.


I think a carrot and stick approach would work. Set adequate regulations backed by inspections. Require say 5% of the wholesale price of the gas extracted into a trust. After 5 years the well owner gets it back if they have met certain standards on environmental impact.

Posted on: 2011/1/27 11:49


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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pcray, I agree with you, instead of a $25000 fine for breaking a rule, make it 250,000. I think it was you who said earlier, we have to make it profitable for them to do it right. if they can't do it right, then they aren't going to do it.
we just have to get our new Gov to agree, and we all have to keep our eyes open.
I do think they have enough state forest land leased for now though. let them drill what they have, see how it goes and what things look like in ten years, if things are going well, we could talk about more leases.

Posted on: 2011/1/27 17:28


Re: Mountain Watershed Association's Visual Assessment Manual

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I think if they are drilling on state/public-owned land, we should all get a hefty discount on our natural gas bills. If our taxes are going to clean up their messes, then at least give us a discount on gas.
Dave's wife, Missy

Posted on: 2011/1/30 14:43



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