The Susquehanna River Basin Commission has suspended 17 water withdrawal permits because of low-flow conditions. Almost all of the permits were for companies seeking to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region, which overlays much of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania.
The commission made the announcement April 18. The commission, along with the U.S. Geological Survey, has been closely monitoring the water levels at streams in the Marcellus region where gas companies have been withdrawing water. Typically, a gas company will need several million gallons of water to "frack" a well; the water is laced with chemicals to loosen the gas and coax it out of the rock formation thousands of feet underground.
When the drilling process started, the commission did not have solid monitoring, and occasionally streams were sucked dry for the fracking process. Now, the commission requires all companies withdrawing any amount of water to obtain permits, and they can suspend the permits as needed in low-flow conditions.
The commission will re-instate withdrawal permission once the streams return to normal flow conditions. The suspended permits were for withdrawals in Bradford, Tioga, Lycoming, Susquehanna and Luzerne counties.