The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) is installing real-time monitoring stations on 10 streams in the upper Susquehanna River watershed to collect data that may be used in the future to evaluate the effects of drilling on local streams.
Each monitoring station will be equipped with sensors that can detect subtle changes in water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductance and water clarity. The stations also record water depth so establish a relationship with stream flows.
The new monitoring stations will be installed in December, and data will be available starting January 1 on SRBC’s website.
Given the public’s concern about natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale, SRBC is trying to record the health of streams in the upper Susquehanna River as quickly as possible, according to SRBC Executive Director Paul Schwartz.
“Knowing background conditions is how water managers determine if changes in a particular stream are normal for that area or the result of possible pollution events,” Schwartz said.
For example, salt used to de-ice roads can increase conductivity in streams. This activity is not related to natural gas drilling, but elevated conductance levels could be presumed to be the result of drilling. Learning about the factors that currently affect the health of streams will help scientists determine if future changes are typical or unusual.
The 10 stream watersheds cover 12 counties: Allegany, Broome, Chemung, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Otsego, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins counties in New York and Bradford and Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania.
The monitoring stations will become part of SRBC’s Remote Water Quality Monitoring Network, which provides environmental protection officials with early warnings to help them better pinpoint and respond more quickly to changes in the health of streams.
SRBC has already installed 27 monitoring stations, mostly in northern Pennsylvania, where drilling in the Marcellus shale is most active, as well as other locations where no drilling is planned for control data.
Visit SRBC’s website for more information about real-time water quality monitoring on the Susquehanna River.