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Wayne endorses water baseline study

By David Hulse
November 26, 2013

The Wayne County Commissioners on November 14 added their support for a grant application that would fund a baseline water quality study for Wayne County.

The commissioners acted on a request from county watershed specialist Jamie Knecht of the Wayne County Conservation District.

The $250,000 grant would be funded through the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which is derived from “unconventional” or fracking gas well drilling permit fees collected under the state’s Act 13.

The Wayne County Oil & Gas Task Force reports that northern Wayne has nine drilled well sites and 11 other permitted sites with other leaseholders awaiting action on controversial Delaware River Basin Commission water withdrawal rules.

According to the National Public Radio website, six $250,000 grants for the study will be available in 2014.

The Carbon Ground Water Guardians website reports that each county study would provide free baseline water testing, conducted by a certified testing laboratory and collected by trained samplers, for approximately 200 private well owners. It would give priority to those over the age of 65 or families that have a median income of less than two times the poverty level in the project area.

While the study was largely spurred—and paid for—by active and proposed gas drilling in the region, Commissioner Wendell Kay said that testing could “find biologicals” and other health risks in private wells.

Saying he was unaware of any prior testing of this kind, Chairman Brian Smith supported the letter saying, “It would be good to have some kind of study.”

However, he noted that it was his understanding that a number of entities are applying for the same grants.

Last week the commissioners also approved a $25,440 bid by George Kinsman of Honesdale for the purchase of a new loader for the county recycling facility.

They approved an amended 69-year lease of county property in Berlin Township where the township plans a 45-by-60-foot pole building to house equipment.