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Drought Suspends Pennsylvania Fracking Operations

By By Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist.
April 24, 2012, 11:24:47 AM EDT

Low stream flows have forced officials to suspend water usage for the natural gas development (fracking) in portions of Pennsylvania.

A lack of snowfall this winter and a lack of rain this spring were the major players in abnormally low stream flows, low ground water levels and depleted soil moisture.


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In this April 23, 2010, photo, a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site is seen near Burlington, Pa., in Bradford County. So vast is the wealth of natural gas locked into dense rock deep beneath Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio that some geologists estimate it's enough to supply the entire East Coast for 50 years. But freeing it requires a powerful drilling process called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," which uses millions of gallons of water brewed with toxic chemicals that some fear threaten to pollute water above and below ground, deplete aquifers and perhaps endanger human health and the environment-AP. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)

According to a report published by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SBRC), 17 separate water withdrawals were temporarily suspended.

The suspension, initiated to mitigate plunging stream flows in the basin affects 10 companies in five Pennsylvania counties. Those counties are Bradford, Luzerne, Lycoming, Susquehanna and Tioga.

Additional withdrawals may be suspended if rainfall continues to trend below normal.

According to officials, the restrictions are applied to various streams when flow rates reach a certain threshold and do not wait for declaration of a drought.


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