Monday, March 11, 2013

Senate Bill 411 Minewater beneficial use




Mine water for beneficial uses.--Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, landowners, mine operators and water pollution abatement project operators that are involved in treating mine drainage or mine pool water from a permitted mining activity site or water pollution abatement project shall not be deemed to assume legal responsibility for or to incur liability with respect to a cost, injury or damage that arises out of or occurs in connection with the use of mine drainage, mine pool water or treated mine water in connection with the hydraulic fracturing process or other development of a gas well, industrial or other water supply or other beneficial use of the water


1. This may have some conflicting language when compared to the Oil and Gas Law and the assume liability that is associated with natural gas development. I may have missed this section, but it would be nice if the law clearly stated this did not resend current provisions and assumed liability related to exiting  Oil and Gas Law.

It does appears the assumed liability provision is limited to only the "Project Operators"- so that once the mine water leaves the site (i.e., the site where the mine water is collected or initially treated) - they, the Project Operators are no longer assumed liable for other uses beyond their control, i.e., liable for the use of the water by the Gas Company for Hydrofracturing.  (Clarification is needed)

A. Land-owner has mine drainage on the property- they or a third party - treat the mine water and then sell or give away to a water company.
B. The water is transported to a site.
C. Industry uses the water for hydraulic fracturing. 

 Think the the limit of liable is intended to only extend to A related to conyence by B and the use by C   This type of liability provision is needed because many of the parties that fit the role of A are either 501 c3, watershed groups or public private partnerships that have nothing to do with the gas company
2. This may require baseline testing be done in these regions to include additional parameters specific to the source and around treatment project sites.
3. It is possible this may result in decreased streamflows downgradient of withdrawal points - I am not sure how the river basin commissions will evaluate and if they may consider the need for a water withdrawal permit and consumption use fees, but I would assume a consumptive water use docket with provisions for treatment and by-pass flow maybe needed.

4. I like the provisions and hopefully this will more forward the use of degraded waters for hydraulic fracturing and help clean up impacted waterways in PA.

5. I do like the provisions, but for some streams baseflow associated with mine drainage may be a significant portion of the flow and it maybe necessary to maintain some by-pass flow with treatment.

6. Hope this encourages public private partnerships to address Acid mine drainage and mine drainage.

7. Would be nice if this program could be applied indirectly to the Northern Fields –No Gas Development, but it would be great to treat and clean the mine drainage and then issue some type of credit.

8. The law looks like it could be applied to discharges and releases of brine water associated with historic oil and gas development and not just mine drainage?  (Clarification is needed)

9. I am not sure of the eligible land provision? Unless this relates to building some type of treatment structure, etc (Water pollution abatement project operator).  (Clarification is needed)
10. The exemptions near the end of the document seem reasonable - I would assume this came from Senator Yaw - Very Nice.

11. I would recommend the Senators that support this document make the necessary clarifications of the intent, but this is something that is needed.  I think this would have been a better approach then all the press releases on the topic. The goal should be to fix issues and get them resolved.   

Brian Oram

Additional Comments
Mine Drainage and/ or Acid Mine Drainage is the result of natural discharges and legacy issues related to the mining of the anthracite and bituminous fields in Pennsylvania.

Over 4,000 miles of streams in Pennsylvania are adversely impacted by mine and/or acid mine drainage. The most cost effective treatment approaches of these problems tend to be a mixture of land-reclamation and passive treatment systems. Many watershed groups and other organizations in Pennsylvania have been active in attempting to minimize the adverse impacts of mine drainage. One main limitation to the effective management and control of these discharges is the significant capital investment to implement the reclamation process and install the passive or semi-passive remediation system, but the largest hurdle is typically the long-term cost of maintaining these systems and liability that is associated with the operations and maintenance of these systems. The Senate Bill creates an opportunity for public and private partnerships to cover the initial cost for the installation of a more rapid and active treatment system and there is then the opportunity to put in place long-term funding for a passive treatment approach.
The Senate Bill has some key liability provisions. These provisions appear to be:

1. Provisions granted to the landowners and operators of the treatment system so they are no liable for the conveyance and ultimate use of the water. This is critical, because a watershed group or small business that is treating the water only and not hauling should not be liable for the conveyance and final use. This liability should rest with the individuals and companies that are transporting and using this water.
2. The proposed bill provides limits of liability associated with downgradient stream conditions. This provision is needed because it is possible that augmenting the flow of the stream by removing mine drainage will likely decrease water levels and flow volumes, but should eliminate the long-term pollution source. Even though it is not stated in this Senate Bill, it is likely that the river basin commission would play a significant role in reviewing consumptive use permits and may require a baseflow of treated water to maintain stream temperature and flow.
Some missing parts
The bill does require more context and specific language; because it appears the bill will extend to historic oil and natural gas development areas. Therefore, it is possible that some of the sites are releasing water that contains a mixture of brine, heavy oil residues, and other fugitive emission.

The bill may not address the status of the “sludge” generated by the remediation efforts. Does this sludge have a beneficial use or is it classified as a solid waste?
The bill does not address the issue of the need for a water withdrawal permit if the water is used for a consumptive water use? There needs to be a balance on the amount of withdrawal because in special cases excess water withdrawal may induce significant surface and subsurface impacts, such as subsidence and mine fire propagation.
This activity should not be conducted in combination with efforts to produce coal-bed methane gas.
Missing provisions for bonding.

POW - Water Treatment System for AMD- contact

Friday, March 8, 2013

Researchers Find Link to Arsenic-Contaminated Groundwater

Researchers Find Link to Arsenic-Contaminated Groundwater
Human activities are not the main cause of arsenic found in groundwater in Bangladesh.
Instead, a team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Barnard College, Columbia University, University of Dhaka, Desert Research Institute, and University of Tennessee found that the arsenic in groundwater in the region is part of a natural process that predates any recent human activity, like intensive pumping.
Millions of people in Bangladesh and neighboring countries are chronically exposed to arsenic-contaminated groundwater, which causes skin lesions and increases the risk of certain cancers. Bacterial respiration of organic carbon releases naturally-occurring arsenic from sediment into groundwater, but the source of this organic carbon remains unclear.
Brian Mailloux of Barnard College and his team isolated microbial DNA from several depth intervals in arsenic-contaminated aquifers in Bangladesh and analyzed the DNA's radiocarbon signature, which reflects whether the organic carbon used by the microbes derives primarily from younger, surface-derived sources that are transported by groundwater into the aquifers, or older, sediment-derived sources.

Using "bomb pulse" radiocarbon analysis, Lawrence Livermore scientist Bruce Buchholz dated the DNA of groundwater bacteria. He found that the DNA samples were consistently younger than the sediment, suggesting that the microbes favor using surface-derived carbon.

The surface-derived carbon has flowed into the aquifer over hundreds to thousands of years—a rate that is approximately 100 times slower than groundwater flow. The results suggest that recent human activities, such as intensive groundwater pumping, have not yet significantly affected the release of arsenic into the groundwater at this site. Click to read more.

NGWA offers 15 Best Suggested Practices designed to aid groundwater professionals, including Reducing Problematic Concentrations of Arsenic in Residential Well Systems.

Arsenic in the United States
Note- Not my work - posted for my personal use.

Texas Legislation Would Require Water Well Owners to Report Usage Ogallala Aquifer Largest Drop in 25 years

Texas Legislation Would Require Water Well Owners to Report Usage

A Texas bill that would help the state manage how much water it's using was recently introduced.

State Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) filed a bill, SB 272, requiring most farmers to report their water usage to the Texas Water Development Board.
“It’s important to have an empirical measure of groundwater being removed from the modeled available groundwater,” Seliger said to StateImpact Texas, a reporting project of local public media and NPR. “So we know where we are at all times.”

According to the story, 56% of the water in Texas is used for farming and ranching, and much of that water comes from underground sources. The Ogallala Aquifer in the Texas Panhandle experienced its largest drop in 25 years in 2011.
The story reports that water in many parts of the state is managed by groundwater conservation districts, which number near a 100 and are mostly created by the legislature to help balance water needs and supplies. At the moment, neither the Texas Water Development Board nor groundwater districts require water withdrawal reporting, according to the bill’s analysis by the non-partisan Senate Research Center. Some groundwater districts already require reporting, but this law would make it mandatory. For the full article - Go to

Posted for my personal usage

Do-It-Yourself Solar Makes Installation Easy and Affordable

Do-It-Yourself Solar Makes Installation Easy and Affordable

We invite you to attend our FREE workshops starting April 16th
SEEDS (Sustainable Energy Education & Development Support) is sponsoring a free Do-it-Yourself Solar Workshop series from 7 to 9 PM on Tuesdays, April 16, 23, and 30 at the Park Street Complex in Honesdale. This hands-on workshop is for anyone interested in learning how to install their own solar photovoltaic (PV)—electric generating—array. No experience is necessary attend this workshop.

There will be an opportunity to buy panels, inverters, and racking (mounting) at cost through a local solar installer so that participants can install their own systems while the information gained at the workshops is still fresh in their minds. The cost of the equipment will be in the range of $1.50 per watt, consisting of 10 to 14 panels of about 250 watts each, inverters, and racking.

• The first session, Tuesday April 16, will include an overview of solar photovoltaic installation, along with the economics, including the cost, payback, and return on investment. Other topics will include evaluation of sites, the mechanics of ordering the equipment, the support available to those who choose to do an installation, and permits and inspection. Those who are interested can sign up for a free solar evaluation. A panel, inverter, and racking will be there for demonstration and "hands on".
• The second session, Tuesday April 23, will include a review of the first session, installation of racking, attaching inverters to panels, installing panels on racking, and interconnecting wiring.
• As in each previous session, the third and last session, Tuesday April 30, will start with a review and questions from attendees. Wiring details will be covered in this workshop including proper labeling, PPL inspection, monitoring of a system via personal computer, and renewable energy credits: how to market and keep track of them.

There is no obligation to invest in a solar array to attend this workshop. “One of SEEDS’ commitments is to educate our community about renewable energy, how it can save us money and improve the quality of life in our community,” says Jim Sanders, one of the workshop coordinators. “If you want to attend this workshop just to learn more about solar PV economics and how it works, without investing in a system, that’s fine”, says Jim. “And, if you want to take the step to invest in solar, this is definitely a valuable workshop for you.”

If you wish to have your home evaluated, SEEDS will perform this service free for our members. Call us prior to the workshops to schedule. Not a member? Join now for only $10 per year.

Please email or call our office at 570-245-1256 by April 8th to register for this event.

Other Training Programs
Energy Audit/ Solar / Wind Professional CertificationGreen Building / LEED Training

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Baseline Water Testing Process It is NOT Just About Getting a Sample

The Baseline Water Testing Process It is NOT Just About Getting a Sample
By Brian Oram, Professional Geologist
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.
Published in March ONG Marketplace

We have had the opportunity to witness a wide range of practices that have been called baseline testing. We have seen a team of 4 professionals working for the EPA in Dimock, Pennsylvania, take 4 to 5 hours to collect one water sample and we’ve seen a single sampler with virtually no training take 15 minutes to purge and sample a private well with no field measurements or even gloves. The potentially negative impacts of this wide variation in sampling techniques and experience is compounded by the lack of field documentation and a quest for that “single” list of parameters. This approach will make for great future lawsuits and media stories, but does little to generate the reliable data required by professionals, scientists, regulatory agencies, and the public.
The key elements to effective baseline testing should include:
a. A selection of parameters and indicators that meets the regional environmental conditions and addresses the historic and proposed activities and practices in the region and not just a simple list provided or recommended by a regulatory agency;
b. chain-of-custody practices with internal and external quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) that start and end with the certified laboratory working with a trained third-party professional;
c. field documentation, including notes, field measurements, and photos, that includes a summary of the existing condition of the private water distribution system;
d. field sampling done by third-party samplers that are either licensed professionals or specifically trained in the standard operating procedures of the certified testing laboratory, plus these individuals must have a working understanding of common water treatment systems; and
e. prior to releasing the data, the certified laboratory must validate and review the data, plus work with the third-party professional to confirm or check the reliability and validity of the results.
As part of our outreach efforts, we have been able to review baseline testing conducted by multiple entities. Here is just one example for your consideration.
The sample was collected by a non-professional, third party sampler, tested by a certified testing laboratory, and then given by a natural gas company to a private well owner. The sample was collected only a few weeks before drilling started. The well owner was given a report with the raw data, spike and recovery analysis, surrogate testing results, field data sheet, and a full listing of the methods and the laboratory certifications. When the homeowner, a royalty owner, asked if there was any problems, we provided them a list.
1. The field conductivity was reported at 250 uS/cm, but the certified laboratory data had reported a total dissolved solids of 1500 mg/L;
2. The cation and anion mass balance was out of balance by over 25 %;
3. Total metal values less than dissolved metal values; and
4. The well had arsenic at over 10 times the primary drinking water standard, but this was never flagged as a problem for the private well owner.
This data is not scientifically valid and does not make sense. It may be certified, but it is wrong and there is no time to collect another pre-drill sample.
As professionals, we have the obligation to attempt to get it right and to properly inform citizens when a problem is identified. It is critical that we implement a process to screen the water quality data before it is distributed to the community. To build trust, the data must be provided to the private well owner in a format they can understand.
Baseline testing can be a valuable tool for the environmental professional, gas drilling industry, and community. With proper planning, baseline testing can used to determine where additional documentation or monitoring is needed and to determine the location of systems or wells vulnerable to influence.
In our opinion, baseline testing is not just part of an environmental audit, but in many ways, it is an opportunity for the company and consultant to build trust in the community. At the same time, the company is attempting to mitigate risk by documenting pre-existing conditions, the data collected during this baseline assessment should be used to make critical decisions related to the use of best management practices and build trust in the community through education and outreach.
Baseline testing is a community issue. We ALL live downstream and we need to solve problems as a community. This is a great opportunity to make a positive difference in your host community
About the author:

Mr. Brian Oram is a licensed professional geologist with over 25 years experience in water quality, water testing, and environmental training and analysis. For Pennsylvania, B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. just released a new booklet to help educate and inform private well owners and the company has been providing education and outreach throughout the United States through the Water Research Center. The Center is an internet hub where private well owners can access free information and request assistance for water quality issues. For more information, please visit or

Published in March ONG Marketplace - very good issue on water, Naturally Occuring Radiation, water management, TENORM and much more.

New Education Guide for Private Well Owners (What Do the Numbers Mean?) - Published 2012
Guide that has been written to help educate private well owners on drinking water quality, water quality standards, assist in reviewing laboratory reports, and fixing a problem.

New Portal -  - Free Educational Resources and links to videos to help educate private well owners (not funded by any group, person, govt, or agency).