DRBC session on gas regs draws crowd
February 17 - As two Sullivan County law enforcement professionals watched quietly from the rear of the room, a subdued crowd listened intently to a presentation by Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) staff who traveled to Narrowsburg for an informational session requested by the Upper Delaware Council’s (UDC) Project Review Committee.
The special work session was scheduled to aid the UDC as it prepares written comments on the DRBC’s Draft Natural Gas Development Regulations.
The large public turnout prompted relocation of the meeting from UDC offices across the street to the Tusten Town Hall. The opportunity to ask questions was limited to council members and one expert, hydrogeologist Paul Rubin of HydroQuest, who spoke on behalf of the towns of Highland, Lumberland and Tusten.
DRBC water resources management branch manager William Muszynski delivered a presentation that will be posted to the DRBC website at www.state.nj.us/drbc. He was joined by DRBC geologist/hydrologist Eric Engle.
Muszynski laid out DRBC estimates used in developing the regs. “We’ve projected somewhere between 15,000 to 18,000 horizontal wells,” he said. “That doesn’t include vertical wells. If that’s correct, we’ll be looking at somewhere between 2,000 to 2,200 well pads, each one about five acres, with 10,000 to 12,000 total acres of well pad development, and that doesn’t include road or pipeline infrastructures. A football field is about an acre, so you’d be looking at about 10,000 to 12,000 Super Bowl football fields.”
Water needs are estimated at 5,000,000 gallons per horizontal well, based upon 5,000 feet of horizontal projection and translating to roughly 90 billion gallons of water over a 20- to 25-year period. Wastewater is projected at 1,000,000 gallons per well.
A key focus of the regs is the Natural Gas Development Plan, required for development of more than five well pads, or 3,200-acre lease areas. The purpose of such plans is to show how these areas will be developed as a whole, rather than well by well.
Questions and concerns
Next came questions from the council. Rubin asked if an environmental impact study will be considered. “The commissioners decided that we’re moving forward in the absence of that,” replied Muszynski. “If monies become available for it, we would take a look at it, but we’re not required to do an environmental impact study.”