Protecting drinking water for 15 million people in the Delaware River Watershed

The Delaware River Watershed supplies drinking water to approximately 15 million people and gets its water from four states: New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale formation underlying two of these states, Pennsylvania and New York, is expected to dramatically increase in coming years. With this industrial development comes a range of environmental threats, including drinking water contamination. 

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) recently announced that natural gas drillers must get DRBC approval before beginning any natural gas extraction project in shale formations that are located in Special Protection Waters, including the Wild and Scenic Delaware River, treasured for its exceptionally high water quality and outstanding natural resources. This approval is needed for all aspects of natural gas production operations, including the wellpad, waste pits, water withdrawals and discharges of wastewater, until permanent regulations are approved.

The order is groundbreaking because it applies to any size operation, whereas DRBC usually only reviews operations above a certain threshold. In this case, DRBC determined that natural gas projects will have a substantial impact on the Delaware River's water resources regardless of their size.