DEP: Dimock Residents Will Be Provided Permanent Replacement Water Supply
The Department of Environmental Protection this week said residents of Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, will receive public water service from Pennsylvania American Water to replace private wells contaminated with methane gas migrating from poorly constructed natural gas wells.
Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said the state and the water company will proceed with construction of the water line and will seek to recover the cost of the project from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., whose wells are responsible for the gas migration problems in the township.
"The residents of Dimock have waited long enough for Cabot to provide a permanent solution to the gas migration issues that have plagued this community's water supplies," Secretary Hanger said. "Today, we are announcing an agreement with Pennsylvania American Water Company to extend public water lines from Montrose and provide a safe, dependable water supply to residents here."
Gas migration problems in Dimock first became evident when a private water well exploded on January 1, 2009. A DEP investigation revealed that methane gas from a shallow formation had been disturbed and migrated through poorly constructed wells Cabot built while drilling for the much deeper Marcellus Shale formation.
On April 15, 2010, the department ordered Cabot to plug three operating natural gas wells in the township and take remedial action on a fourth well to address gas migration that had contaminated 14 water supplies. In addition, DEP fined Cabot $240,000 and ordered the company to install permanent treatment systems in 14 homes within 30 days. Cabot Oil & Gas also was prohibited from drilling any new wells in a nine-square-mile area around Dimock until April 2011.
On September 14, DEP determined that three additional water supplies serving four residences had been contaminated by migrating gas migration caused by Cabot's drilling activities.
"The problems in Dimock were caused by Cabot's failure to construct their natural gas wells properly, and we are holding them responsible for the damage caused by these wells," Secretary Hanger said. "We intend to proceed with construction of a public water system for the Dimock area and will seek recovery of costs from Cabot Oil & Gas."
Pennsylvania American Water Company will construct a new, 5.5-mile water main from the company's Lake Montrose water treatment plant south along Route 29 to Dimock and install approximately seven miles of distribution line to provide water service to at least 18 homes.
The solution to the drinking water needs in Dimock will also make this basic resource accessible to other residents along Route 29 not currently served by public water. The water company will also install pressure regulating stations and a new treatment facility to serve the community.
The waterline extension and associated facilities is estimated to cost $11.8 million.
"Pennsylvania American has proven itself to be a reliable source of quality drinking water to more than two million Pennsylvanians," said Secretary Hanger. "I am disappointed that Cabot has chosen not to embrace this opportunity to put these events behind us and allow everyone involved in this difficult matter to move forward."
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