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Milford’s water comes from underground springs and ground water flows supply all the private wells that provide most of Pike’s drinking water. Deep shale gas drilling cuts through these water courses and environmentalists say drilling can pollute them and has in other areas. Drillers are acquiring leases to drill these wells locally. By David Hulse

MILFORD — Cold water fishing in the upper Delaware River may complicate plans for Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling feared by local environmental groups.

A public hearing on proposed Delaware River water pumping of up to one million gallons per day for Marcellus Shale gas exploration has been postponed indefinitely. The hearing, which was scheduled for Sept. 23, at the PPL Environmental Center, was been postponed indefinitely at the request of the applicant, a West Virginia firm, Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC.

Staff at the Delaware River Basin Commission originally proposed approval of the plan, which would have drawn down the flow of the West Branch of Delaware to as little as five percent of its average daily volume. Pennsylvania and New York wildlife agencies complained that cold water fish in protected downstream waters would not survive the reduction. The commission revised its numbers, raising the minimum bypassing the pumps to 25 percent of normal.

Chesapeake told the commission on Sept. 15 that it is seeking additional time “to review and consider the changes reflected in the revised draft docket for the project.”

The delay does not address other environmental concerns. The deep drilling process, known as fracking, uses high volumes of water treated with chemicals. Drillers hold the formulas as trade secrets and refuse to divulge them. Critics point to instances where public and private drinking water sources have been polluted by these chemicals.

Legislation has been introduced in the last two sessions of Congress to require federal oversight of deep gas drilling processes. These bills have never reached the full House for a vote.

DRBC actions as a result of the delay

The revised DRBC decision, proposed Docket No. D-2009-20-1* will remain posted on the commission’s Web site; and can be viewed at

The public comment period on the revised draft will remain open beyond Sept. 30.

The dates for a new hearing and close of the public comment period will be announced as soon as a new hearing date is determined.

The commission will not be considering the Chesapeake docket at its Oct. 22 business meeting.
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