On Wednesday, USGS released a report on the hydrogeology of the aquifer system in the Susquehanna River Valley in parts of Broome and Chenango Counties of New York. While industry flaks spin this report as proclaiming “lots of water for industrial use”. The USGS report actually highlights the role of aquifer protection in the context of gas drilling impacts:
"Aquifer protection in the study area is a topic of public concern in relation to the potential for natural gas drilling in this part of New York. Aquifer protection efforts likely will focus on currently used resources. Information provided in this report may help managers prioritize protection of largely unused aquifers whose characteristics suggest that they are capable of providing large public or commercial water supplies." p. 17.
Rachel Treichler’s excellent analysis points out why this study is valuable to communities in the Southern Tier. Of particular importance, the report highlights the close connections between uplands and the valley aquifers. If water quality in streams is compromised by activities in the upland watershed, groundwater quality in the valleys may be compromised. Therefore, it is not good enough to simply protect valley “wellheads” for local water supplies. We need to protect the upland watersheds.