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O&G Monitoring Activities

Since 2010, the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) and regional water quality staff have modified the Department's Surface Water Monitoring Program to account for changes in water quality that could be affected by gas development within the Marcellus Play and more recently the Utica Play. Since 2011, the Department's Office of Oil and Gas Management has supported a DWQ, Monitoring Section staff position. The position provides the capacity for the Division to implement additional water quality monitoring as described below.

The Division has implemented a Continuous Instream Monitoring (CIM) sampling methodology that allows staff biologists to collect water quality data as often as every 15 minutes for periods of one year or greater. CIM allows DWQ to assess water quality at a much finer resolution than traditional discrete water chemistry or biological monitoring. CIMR webpage

The Pennsylvania Water Quality Network (WQN) is a statewide fixed station water quality sampling program operated by the Division. It is designed to assess both the quality of the Commonwealth's surface waters and the effectiveness of the water quality management program. In 2010, a total of 116 stations had additional water chemistry constituents specific to oil and gas signatures added to them. WQN Network

On Jan. 15, 2015, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the results of its TENORM Study, which analyzed the naturally occurring levels of radioactivity associated with oil and natural gas development in Pennsylvania. While the study outlines recommendations for further study, it concluded there is little potential for harm to workers or the public from radiation exposure due to oil and gas development. Radiation Protection

The TENORM study, as well as studies conducted by DWQ staff in 2011 and 2019, have aimed to describe TENORM impacts in streambed sediments and surface waters. The 2011 Report effectively showed wastewater discharges do elevate TENORMs above background levels in sediment near and directly downstream of a discharge location. Because wastewater is a point source pollution TENORMs are easily traced via methods described in these studies. The 2021 Report showed that brine used to treat dirt and gravel roads may influence streambed sediment radionuclide composition with minimal impacts to surface waters.