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Published: February 12, 2014 print this article Print save this article Save email this article Email ENLARGE TEXT increase font decrease font

Water safeguards?

The Butler Eagle needs to investigate what is being done to protect the municipal water supply for Butler city and township from a chemical spill similar to or worse than the one that occurred recently near Charleston, W.Va.
To my knowledge, there are at least eight shale gas wells north of, and not that far from, Oneida Valley Reservoir, a principal water source. Are any of these wells located near streams that flow into the reservoir? If so, what protections are in place to keep toxic fracking chemicals from reaching the reservoir in the event of a well blowout or other accident?
Perhaps a more immediate threat to the reservoir is the many tanker trucks driving along Route 38 carrying toxic chemicals north to the wells. Why doesn’t the Pennsylvania DEP require these trucks to take a route that doesn’t bring them so perilously close to a major municipal water source? This stretch of highway is notorious for accidents.
I have heard from reliable sources that Pennsylvania American Water has run a pipeline from the reservoir to the area of the drilling sites so that the drillers can use our municipal water for fracking. I have never read about this in the Eagle. Did I missed it? Maybe the Eagle could verify this? I’m sure the community would like to know if this is happening.
The reservoir is full now; will this arrangement continue if a summer drought should come upon the area?
For a few years after 9/11, Pennsylvania American Water had Oneida Reservoir cordoned off and would allow no one near it. You couldn’t even fish there. They feared that foreign terrorists might poison Butler’s water.
Now that there is a much more plausible threat, what steps are being taken to safeguard our water supply?

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Joseph P. McMurry
Butler Township
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