Publication addresses water withdrawals for Marcellus gas drilling

December 01, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State Cooperative Extension has released an updated version of a publication that addresses the rapidly changing topic of water withdrawals for Marcellus Shale gas drilling.

Originally published in September 2009, "Water Withdrawals for Development of Marcellus Shale Gas in Pennsylvania" reflects the latest Marcellus-related regulatory changes enacted by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, the Delaware River Basin Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Water is a critical component in the process of extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation. Public policies for managing and protecting water resources are common concerns of Pennsylvania residents, according to a water-policy expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Development of the Marcellus Shale could have major economic and environmental effects for Pennsylvanians and residents of neighboring states," said Charles Abdalla, professor of agricultural and environmental economics. "Individuals, businesses and communities will be affected well into the future as this energy resource is fully developed.

"Citizens need to become aware of their stake in water-resource issues and policies and effectively participate in public policy-making," he said. "Public policies for water management and protection will be improved if the affected parties -- which include almost everyone -- are well-informed about likely impacts and take advantage of opportunities to participate in decisions."

Seeking to engage residents, landowners, federal and state agency personnel, environmental organizations, economic development groups and others, the publication discusses the fast-evolving issues and public policies related to water resources and Marcellus Shale gas exploration.

While adequate supplies of water are one of several essential inputs needed to extract gas from the shale, wastewater is an output from the process that must be treated or disposed of properly.

"Through this publication, we hope to increase the public's understanding of water use and management related to Marcellus Shale gas development and help people understand how and where they can offer input into public decisions about water use and wastewater treatment," said Abdalla, the publication's lead author.

"Now is the time for people to learn about and help shape public policies that will guide development of the Marcellus Shale," he said. "These policies will play a large part in determining the economic well-being and quality of life for residents of the commonwealth for a long time -- perhaps generations -- to come."

Funding for the updated publication comes from the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center at Penn State. To obtain a free copy, contact the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Publication Distribution Center, The Pennsylvania State University, 112 Agricultural Administration Building, University Park, PA 16802-2602; telephone: 814-865-6713; fax: 814-863-5560; or send an e-mail to

This publication also is available online in PDF format.

The publication is the latest in a series initiated by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Cooperative Extension to address issues related to Marcellus Shale gas exploration and development. Other publications in the series, along with related webinars, presentations and events, can be viewed at Cooperative Extension's "Natural Gas" website.

  • Informed public policies should guide water use and wastewater disposal at Marcellus Shale gas-drilling sites such as this one, says a Penn State expert.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated March 21, 2011