Drought forces halt to water withdrawals for gas drilling operations
(Reuters; July 17) - Natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania have to stop withdrawing water from certain streams due to the severe drought, a water regulator said July 16. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission said it has suspended permits to siphon water from the river's streams in the highest number of areas than at any time since it began issuing permits to gas producers in June 2008 allowing them to draw river water.
The commission said the suspensions affected around 30 companies, not all of them gas companies, that rely on some 64 water withdrawal areas in 13 Pennsylvania counties and one New York county. Water is an integral part of the natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing. Gas production in the areas has grown rapidly in the past three years.
However, four gas producers said the suspensions did not affect them as they had already reduced operations because of seasonal planning or low gas prices, or are using alternative water sources. Many gas producers either keep water in reservoirs, recycle water or plan operations around the dry season because the process of hydraulic fracturing is so water intensive.