Saturday, October 29, 2011

Citizen Science and the Citizen Groundwater/ Surfacewater Database

Citizen Science and the Citizen Groundwater/ Surfacewater Database
The Concept- The Need- The Purpose

The Private Well Owner Outreach Program in Pennsylvania

by Mr. Brian Oram, PGFor the past 20+ years, I have been conducting water quality analysis, baseline tesint, and conducting education programs for the citizens of Pennsylvania. Even though our groundwater resources are one of our most important assets, there is limited data on the quality and quantity of regional groundwater. While working at Wilkes University, I held establish the formation of a "Citizen" Groundwater and Surfacewater Database. Even though I no longer work full-time at Wilkes University, I am working with Dr. Brian Redmond and Dr. Sid Halsor on the development, formation, and creation of this community tool. This regional water quality database is an unbiased warehouse of water quality data that is supported by fellow "Citizens" of this Commonwealth. After reviewing this information, I would hope you will take action and support the Citizens Groundwater and Surfacewater Database.

The database will provide information about the current state of groundwater and surface water quality and serve as a basis for monitoring impacts related to Marcellus gas drilling and other activity in our region. The database initiative is the first of its kind in northeast Pennsylvania and the initial database targeted private wells in Luzerne and Columbia Counties, but we are reaching out to build partnerships throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania so the database can include other counties in the area, i.e., Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Sullivan, Wayne, and Wyoming (Resource: Initial Press Release dated –August 17, 2010).

The purpose of our database is twofold. We will use it to help us better understand the current and future groundwater and surface water quality for the region. The database will also be used to generate educational materials relating to regional water quality. The database is for research and education purposes, and will not be sold or used for any commercial purpose. The database is managed by representatives of the Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences Department at Wilkes University, i.e., Dr. Brian Redmond and Dr. Sid Halsor.

To protect your privacy, the research database file will only include the testing results, zip code, general information on well or water source, and the latitude and longitude of the sampling site. Your name, address, or other contact information will NOT be included within the database.

This is what citizens are saying about this service and community resource:

"WOW! I can’t thank you enough. My only regret is that you are not here to do the rest of the tests for my community. If all this drilling wasn’t coming here, I would be begging you to bring the family here." (Darlington, Pa)
"KUDOs to Brian and others for putting the concept together" (Wayne County, PA)
"Thank you for a most informative discussion last night. I think it may have opened many eyes and minds to well contamination issues already in the community" (Regional Task Force, PA).

II. More Information or Host a Community Event
If you have not conducted baseline analysis and have questions about the testing process and suggested parameters please go to Submit Your Questions or Request for Assistance. Send a copy of your water quality data or host a community meeting where the water quality data could be compiled. To request a community meeting - email or Please put Citizen Database in Subject.
III. Guidelines for Data Submission (Data Qualifications)

For your data to be included in the database, it will need to meet the following criteria.
1. For inclusion in the water quality database, the water sample must have been collected using an independent third party for the sample collection and following the chain-of-custody process.
2. The testing must have been conducted by a certified laboratory which provided you with a copy of the certified results including a listing of methods, method detection limits, and reporting limits.
3. The field survey must include the GPS position of the well or you must grant permission for us to visit your property to document the GPS position of your well.

4. The field survey should include the static water level in the well prior to purging the system or you must grant permission for us to visit your property to determine if the static water level can be documented.

5. The water sample must be collected ahead of any water treatment system.
6. If the sample was collected after natural gas drilling within 1000 feet of the well – this should be stated on the information request sheet.


Chain-of-Custody – Is typically a document that tracks the sample from the time of collection to delivery to the certified laboratory and any subsequent releases of the sample to other laboratories for analysis.
Certified Laboratory – a laboratory that has been approved and certified by the Pennsylvania Laboratory Accreditation Program for the specific testing parameters and methods of analysis.

III. My Data Qualifies – What Do I Need To Do? - ACT NOW - Get the Forms you NEED!
In order to participate in this process, please do the following:
1. Information Document about the Program (Please Keep for Your Reference).
2. Download a copy of the Consent Form and Return/Signed.
3. Send a copy of your certified laboratory testing results with Chain-of-Custody Documents. (Download Data Qualification Requirements)

4. Mail this information to:
Mr. Brian Oram, PG
Citizen Outreach Program
15 Hillcrest Drive
Dallas, PA 18612

Questions - call (570) 335-1947
or send a pdf version by email to or

5. Schedule a Community Event - This includes a presentation on the database, suggestions for baseline testing, discuss on Methane Gas Migration, initial review of the data, and then submitting individual summaries of the results to the citizens.
6. Participate in the PA Private Well Owner and Watershed Survey

To Learn More - Go Here NOW.


Brian Oram, PG

Citizen of Pennsylvania

Web Portals

Looking for Free Information on Water Quality- Try the

Our Facebook Sites - B.F. Environmental Consultants - Water Research Center

No comments:

Post a Comment