Mon River Recreation & Commerce Committee
9 January 2009
The meeting was called to order at 9:09 by Chairman Barry Pallay.
Minutes were taken by Wallace Venable in the absence of Don Strimbeck.
Chairman Pallay started with announcements and review of the agenda.
The minutes of the 12 December 2008 meeting were approved as distributed.
The format and agenda for Mon River Summit IV were summarized by Chairman Pallay. The MRS will be held Monday 13 April 2009, at Waterfront Place Hotel, Morgantown WV. The Executive Committee will consist of Barry Pallay, Peggy Myers-Smith, Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Kenneth Busz, President of the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce.
Madeleine Hoden reported that they presented a PowerPoint on the Riverfront design project for Westover and behind Stansbury Hall to the Chief of Staff to WVU president, and other top-level WVU administrators on 12 December to TV Channel 12 had 11PM news report on the concept. (This presentation was similar to the one made to MRRCC on 10 October, and will be posted on www.UpperMon.org in the near future.)
Barry Pallay reported on the Mon River Water Quality Monitoring Program being developed by Pallay, Paul Ziemkiewicz, and Frank Jernejcic. The program will increase access to, and prvide interpretation of, water quality data. It will not generate new data streams, but gaps in the data will be identified. Representatives of Save the Tygart Watershed offered an additional data stream to the project.
Frank Jernejcic circulated copies of CONCERNS / QUESTIONS IDENTIFIED ABOUT MARCELLUS SHALE GAS WELL DRILLING AND THE TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLID PROBLEM ON THE MONONGAHELA RIVER (Appendix A) and Summary Statement on the TDS Issue (Appendix B) for comment.
Carol Thorn gave an update on the Everettville Miners Memorial Park. The park will be used as a WVU student design project this spring.
Editing continues on the WMWT Trail Map.
The Quality Glass and Beaumont Glass sites will be used as subjects for WVU student environmental design projects this spring. Students will look at both history and planning topics. David Weaver reported that the Monongalia County Commission held a pre-bid meeting on restoration design work for the Quality Glass site. 27 firms attended.
Frank Jernejcic gave a brief update on the WVDNR launch facility, and fishing and boat access near Fort Martin. About half the work is done. Paving will start in the spring and the facility may be complete by May or June. Allegheny Energy will provide funds for a rock dike at the site and possibly for another rock dike at the mouth of Deckers Creek. There is to be a Catfish Tournament in the area in May-June as well as a Bass Tournament later in the year.
With regard to federal economic stimulus action, Army Corps of Engineers representative Curt Meader observed that infrastructure reinvestment is a constantly moving target, and the Corps is providing data in response to requests
Corps Hydrologist Werner Loehlein reported that Mon River flows are about back to normal and Tygart and Stonewall reservoir levels are near seasonal norms.
Corps representative Rose Reilly reported that analysis of data on the October-November TDS incident in the Mon is still incomplete.
Greene County Economic Development Director Robbie Matesic circulated a letter from Bill DeWeese, House Majority Whip (Greene County) to John Hanger, Acting Secretary, PA Department of Environmental Protection, regarding the Marcellus Shale water issues. (Appendix C)
Chairman Pallay introduced Scott Mandirola, Director, and Patrick Campbell, Assistant Director, WV Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water and Waste Management.
Patrick Campbell presented a PowerPoint report &ldquoMonongahela River TDS Concerns&rdquogiven to a WVU Legislature sub committee on 8 December 2008.
The presentation was followed by a general discussion of the WV-DEP-DWWM policies, practices, and needs. Discussion was based largely on the letters sent by Pallay to WV-DEP Secretary Huffman. (These letters are posted on the www.UpperMon.org web page on the Marcellus Shale.) Points raised included:
Quantitative references for use in reading TDS reports
Brine disposal in West Virginia is not unregulated. While gas well brine is not covered by separate regulations, untreated brine may not be discharged into surface waters of the state.
Audience members pointed out that treated brine is discharged into surface waters at at least three WV sanitary waste plants (Wheeling, Welch, and Clarksburg), that &ldquotreatment&rdquo does not remove TDS, and that &ldquotreatment&rdquo is simple dilution. Hence, any statements that brine is not discharged in surface waters are incorrect. Clarksburg has the only sewage plant accepting brine in the Mon Valley, and accepts only modest amounts.
Clarksburg is developing a plan to sell wastewater treatment effluent to drillers, as well as accepting limited amounts of brine. The Morgantown Utility Board is not involved in brine disposal, and sees the market as a difficult one to serve due to the fact that it is pretty much a one-shot market.
Most brine disposal in West Virginia is disposed in instate injection wells or trucked to Ohio for injection. Geological structures in Pennsylvania are classified as unsuitable for injection wells, although WV-DEP-DWWM professional (and WV geologists ?) see no general reason why the PA and WV should be classified differently. Lee Avery, WV Geological & Economic Survey, has studied the injection well permits and estimates that there a &ldquocouple hundred&rdquoinjection wells in the state. Most are small, and for owners' use only, with only about 10 &ldquocommercial&rdquo wells accepting large quantities. WV accepts out of state water for injection. Ohio has high capacity injection wells.
The WV Office of Oil & Gas website has well information. A link will be posted on www.UpperMon.org in the near future.
WV-DEP-DWWM currently has 10 inspectors, and current plans call for hiring an additional 5 in the very near future.
Brine disposal is not tracked in WV but companies are now required to provide their disposal plans as part of drilling permit applications. This is an addendum to the basic application. Most (or all) WV drillers in the Marcellus Shale have said they are using injection disposal. PA is instituting requirements for the monitoring of truck manifests for brine movements. WV has no plans to monitor brine movements, and WV-DEP-DWWM may not have legal authority to do so.
Water withdrawal in WV is governed by the WV Water Protection Act. During drafting of the act there was great resistance to any requirement of permits for withdrawal. No permit is required for fresh water withdrawal in WV for any purpose, but any party withdrawing more that 750,000 gallons per month is required to file an after-the-fact report. WV-DEP-DWWM staff actively review reports, and think they are generally complete and accurate. They check drillers, golf courses, ski resorts, etc. A permit system for WV would require new legislation.
The Susquehanna River Commission has water withdrawal regulations which involve permits for some situations.
PA sewage treatment plant were operating &ldquoon their own&rdquo in accepting brine before the fall 2008 incident, and not &ldquoallowed&rdquo to do so by PA DEP.
Don Spencer noted that benzene in water supplies is an issue in Ohio, ans some suspect that it comes from drilling brine.
WV-DEP-OWWM reps said drillers and suppliers have been willing to share general information on frac fluids, as well as MDS (material data sheets) on components, even if exact formulations are trade secrets. Things like diesel fuel are no longer used, and many of the components are actually food grade materials. The public should not be particularly concerned about the frac fluids themselves, but about the recovered brine which returns to the surface. Individually they appear to have no general concerns about the environmental properties of the frac process, as long as rules are followed.
WV-DEP-OWWM reps said that centralized process plants for brine treatment are fully acceptable, provided that plant operators can prove that their process are effective in controlling waste stream components. They are talking constructively with the industry. Centralized treatment will only be attractive if injection is not cost effective. In the past, brine volumes were too low and processing was not attractive. They see no particular reason to think that on-site treatment might be a viable option.
In answer to the question about how many Marcellus Shale wells there are in WV, Lee Avery currently estimates are that there were about 1500 Devonian Shale wells permitted in WV during 2006 and 2007. Not all were in Marcellus. The number for 2008 is probably 600 to 700. These are permitted wells, and not every permit actually results in drilling since companies may drop a project based on newer information such as data from new surveys or results from nearby sites.
Bill Cannon, of Allegheny Energy, noted that his company regularly brings supplemental treatment plants to Hattfield Station each fall to handle cooling water needs during periods of projected low water flow in the Mon. In 2008 the additional cost for this was about $200,000. They project that an investment of $61 million plus additional operating costs of about $4 million may be required to handle the wastewater treatment for their new scrubbers if TDS standards or projections change. These costs would be passed on to consumers.
Don Spencer noted that there are 40 drinking water and 20 waste water treatment plants in the Upper Monongahela valley which may be economically effected by increased TDS discharges. Any cost increases will be borne by consumers.
TDS data is not precision data as TDS levels in water are probably stratified at many sites.
Robbie Matesic, Greene County Department of Economic Development, suggested that invitations to participate in our discussions should be extended to people involved in bonding and other economic development funding since they might invest in construction of brine treatment plants.
It was suggested that Chief James Martin, or his deputy Jean Smith, of the WV Office of Oil & Gas be invited to a future meeting.
There was general agreement that the TDS incident has revealed a problem which is not a &ldquoone shot&rdquo thing. We have to stay on track and develop a plan for the long run. One wag added that self-reporting be industry is not a complete sollution &ndash observing the the Securities and Economic Exchange Commission took Maddoff's reports at face value.
The meeting was adjourned about 12:00.
CONCERNS / QUESTIONS
IDENTIFIED ABOUT MARCELLUS SHALE GAS
WELL DRILLING AND THE TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLID PROBLEM ON THE
Compiled by the Upper Monongahela River Association; December 2008
There was unanimous agreement that a comprehensive approach to address these problems must be developed. Specifically, regulations and information to monitor and control the impacts of MS gas wells in West Virginia will be needed. Major concerns that were identified include:
Summary Statement on the TDS Issue
January 9, 2009
An increase in the total dissolved solid (TDS) load of the PA reach of the Monongahela River occurred from October through mid-December, 2008 and resulted in a recommendation by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for more than a hundred thousand residents to use bottled water for drinking and cooking if they were concerned about the taste of the municipal water supply. Waste water treatment plants and industrial users of river water were also adversely impacted.
The TDS load in the PA reach of the Mon River (Oct.-Nov. 2008) was comprised of 40% sulfates from mine drainage (AMD) and 40% sodium and chloride (MSF or Marcellus Shale Fracwater). In WV, TDS consists of untreated and treated AMD as well as MSF. The breakdown among these sources is not known at this time. Recurrence of high TDS concentrations during extreme low flow periods is likely in the Monongahela River and will increase in severity if loadings from mine water discharges and/or MSF, as predicted, increase beyond their current levels.
The water quality standard (WQS) for TDS in Pa is 500 mg/I. WV does not have a WQS for TDS. A solution to the problem, in part, will be to establish a WQS for TDS in WV that will enable the WV DEP to manage and control high TDS levels in the future.
Failure to manage TDS discharges will cause serious drinking water and industrial problems in WV.
Letter from Bill DeWeese, Majority Whip, PA House of Representatives to John Hanger, PA-DEP
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
December 8, 2008
Honorable John Hanger, Acting
Department of Environmental Protection
Rachel Carson State Office Building
P.O. Box 2063Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063
Dear Acting Secretary Hanger:
As you know, the economic opportunities for Southwest Pennsylvania are boundless in regards to The Marcellus Shale drilling for natural gas. It is of the highest imperative that the CommonweaIth assist with and reasonably regulate the drilling process to benefit residents and businesses while protecting our state's natural resources for future generations. Any governmental action which might drive drilling companies and their employees to neighboring states needs to be examined with great scrutiny.
Greene, Fayette, and Washington Counties are the very epicenter of the natural gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania. Our regional economy is based on coal, natural gas, and other extractive industries. At the same time, it is clear that the Monongahela River is one of our greatest natural assets and must be protected for drinking water, aquatic life, and recreation. There are many reasons why the Total Dissolvable Solids might be high in the Monongahela and while DEP should certainly seek to discover the origin of the TDS, the Department should rescind any blanket degree that afflicts both the scientifically sound operators and those of a lesser quality who might have inadequate or few pollution controls in place.
Three large drilling companies, Chesapeake, Range Resources, and Atlas, are all considering moving south to West Virginia where a better regulatory climate for natural gas drilling exists. In addition, the legislature and DEP need to find a way to hire more staff to process these permits in an expedited process so our natural gas industry doesn't gravitate outside of the borders of the Commonwealth. I would appreciate your attention to these vital issues which are of paramount importance to the people of Southwest Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot once wrote that "it is the duty of the Forest Service to see to it that the timber, water-powers, mines, and every other resource of the forests is used for the benefit of the people who live in the neighborhood or who may have a share in the welfare of each locality`. I believe that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has the same sacred duty in the case of the Marcellus Formation to see that local Pennsylvania residents, workers, businesses, and municipalities benefit from this exciting economic endeavor. I look forward to working with you in seeking to have the TDS situation resolved and to hire more staff in your Department to process these permits faster while maintaining the same high standards of water protection. If I may be of assistance with these requests, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Bill DeWeese, House Majority Whip
50th Legislative District
Attendance List &ndash MRRCC Meeting - 9 January 2008
The following signed the attendance sheet or were observed to attend:
Frank Jernejcic, WVDNR
Wallace Venable, Chief Technical Officer, UMRA
Jim Summers, WV Bass Federation, and, WV Wildlife Federation
Lee Avary, WV Geological Survey
Peggy Myers-Smith, Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau
Rose Reilly, Pittsburgh District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Curt Meeder, Pittsburgh District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Werner Loehlein, Pittsburgh District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Greg Bellich, Pittsburgh District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Ralph LaRue, Board of Parks & Recreation Commission, City of Morgantown
Bill Coffindaffer, Town of Star City, vision program
Barry Pallay, Chair, MRRCC, and vice president, UMRA
Bob Bell, Monongalia County Commission
John Duarte, Mon Rowing Association
Jim Green, General Manager, Morgantown Utility Board
Tim Ball, Morgantown Utility Board
John Fullmer, UMRA & MRR&CC
Patrick Campbell, WV DEP DWWM
Scott Mandirola , WV DEP DWWM
Barbara Fleischauer, WV House of Delegates
Richard Little, White Day Creek
Ashley Kybere, WVU, Landscape Architecture
Peter Butler, WVU, Landscape Architecture
Martin Christ, Friends of Deckers Creek
McCall Allen, WBOY (Channel 12) Clarksburg
Cassie, Shaner, Morgantown Dominion Post
Don Spencer, Morgantown City Council
Charlie Byrer, Morgantown City Council
David Weaver, UMRA
Albert Yost, NETL
Bill Goodwin, Clarksburg Sanitary Board
Bill Cannon, Allegheny Energy
Jim Gaston, Town of Star City
Bill Schuller, URS/EG&G
Robbie Matesic, Greene County Economic Development
Jennifer R. Patton, Greene County Tourism
Paula Martinelli, Greater Morgantown Community Trust
Leroy Stanley, Save the Tygart Watershed
Paul Baker, Save the Tygart Watershed
Collier, Save the Tygart Watershed
Carol Thorn, Everettville Historical Association
Craig Lefevre, WVU
Jim Kotcon, WV Sierra Club
Randy Kesling, Trout Unlimited, Mountaineer Chapter.
Madeleine Hoden, WVU Student
Kenneth Busz, President of the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce