Groundwater Protection Within Shale Gas Areas: Examples from Pennsylvania Source Water Protection Technical Assistance Program

Wednesday, June 19, 2013: 4:20 p.m.
Alfred C. Guiseppe, PG , Manager | Water Resources, SSM Group Inc., Reading, PA

The current natural gas development boom in eastern Ohio has raised serious source water protection concerns among drinking water suppliers.  Over the past five years, Pennsylvania has faced an unprecedented expansion in shale gas drilling activities. To help community water systems develop source water protection plans, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection initiated the Source Water Protection Technical Assistance Program in 2007. The SSM Group Inc., of Reading, Pennsylvania, was contracted to provide the technical assistance to qualifying community water systems across the commonwealth. In the first five years of the program, SSM provided approved Source Water Protection Plans to 91 water systems, 39 of which reside within the Marcellus Shale “Fairway.”  Approaches and strategies implemented to protect drinking water supplies vary greatly throughout the region based on the assessment of risk posed by current, and future, activities within the water contribution areas. One of the most effective protection strategies involves the utilization of the hydrologic and groundwater computer models that are used to predict water flow that contributes to supply sources. In addition to being used to delineate recharge areas and protection zones, the groundwater computer models are used to investigate potential sources of stray gas, assess the risk of gas well drilling activities, and predict migration paths of pipeline breaches and other surface derived contamination sources.

Water systems face many threats to the water quality of their supply. Taking a proactive approach to source water protection lessens the risk of a catastrophic loss of a water supply. The examples provided in this presentation illustrate the advantages to utilizing groundwater computer models for source water protection measures.

Alfred C. Guiseppe, PG, Manager | Water Resources, SSM Group Inc., Reading, PA
A graduate of Millersville University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wyoming, Alfred Guiseppe is the manager of the Water Resources Group at SSM. Overseeing a staff of environmental specialists, he manages various water resources-related projects including groundwater supply development, watershed management and source water protection. In addition, Guiseppe is responsible for the management and development of geologic and hydrogeologic modeling capabilities including regional groundwater flow and contaminant fate and transport modeling.