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13 - Evaluation of Potential Water Quality Impacts in Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction

The Application of Elemental Ratio Approaches to Pennsylvania Pre-Drill Data

from Part III - Case Studies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2022

John Stolz
Duquesne University, Pittsburgh
Daniel Bain
University of Pittsburgh
Michael Griffin
Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania
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Historical data can be used to evaluate water impacts from unconventional oil and gas extraction. “Grey” literature measurements of water quality before, during, and after unconventional extraction activities offer a potentially powerful resource for the evaluation of water quality impacts, and these data have rapidly expanded with regulatory response to the unconventional boom. However, historical data are limited in the variety of measured constituents and require substantial effort to reconstruct, revisit, and re-evaluate. Ultimately, available data were limited as data from only a single county (Bradford) included constituents necessary to use the vast majority of these elemental ratio systems. Further, even when data were available, they were often measured with relatively poor sensitivity, precluding their use as early indicators of contamination. This case study accentuates the continued need to establish background conditions, particularly in regions that have accumulated historical impacts, and further, ensure these characterizations incorporate sensitive testing for known chemistries associated with emerging and novel processes.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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