Susquehanna and Delaware River Basin Commissions
The DRBC and SRBC hold more influence than the DEP in regulating water usage and other water-related aspects of gas well drilling that fall under their jurisdiction. SRBC’s regulations are intended to protect the environment and existing water users from unapproved water use and water use conflicts.
The agency regulates issues such as water withdrawals, deep well injection of fracing waste fluids and disposal of fracing fluids from constructed lagoons. In cooperation with the DEP the DRBC will also investigate and manage situations in which drilling damages neighboring wells. Companies operating without prior water use approval for drilling and other water-related activities will be considered in willful noncompliance if they continue to operate after receiving the distributed notice sent out in early June 2008.
This consumptive water use is regulated in several different ways.
Consumptive use in gas drilling refers to any water that is used in a way that prevents its return to the basin. An example is the injection of waste fluids into a subsurface formation where it would not be reasonably available for future use or any diversions of water out of the Susquehanna watershed. These consumptive uses are defined in regulations through volume over a certain period of days.
SRBC also has the authority to make an across-the-board determination that well development activities in the Marcellus Shale formations may require approval regardless of the amount of water used. The SRBC can exercise this broad authority if it determines that the water-use activities may affect interstate water quality, may have a significant effect on SRBC’s Comprehensive Plan or may have an adverse, cumulative, or interstate effect on the basin’s water resources.
Land situated outside of the basin commissions’ boundaries, such as in southwest Pennsylvania, are solely under the regulatory authority of DEP and are not monitored or regulated by a basin commission.
For more information, see: