Mon River Declared ‘Impaired’

By Tim Puko
Reposted from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


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The Monongahela River is at a crossroads. 

Not just at the Point, where the dark, silty Mon — lifeblood to heavy industry — merges with the clearer Allegheny. The Mon might be one of the country’s most endangered rivers, according to scientists studying the river.

Since 2008, the river has filled each summer with levels of contaminants higher than in at least 10 years. What role the region’s gas boom might play in the pollution is unknown. State environmental officials are employing stronger regulations and may ask for federal intervention to save the river from new threats and a legacy of mine pollution…

… This spring, the DEP began the process to have the river designated as “impaired,” which would allow the federal government to set standards for river polluting. The Environmental Protection Agency would commission a study to determine limits for industrial dumping of total dissolved solids in the river.

To give you an idea of some of the water management issues facing the Mon and western PA, below is a snapshot created by Kyle Ferrar of CHEC. Natural gas drilling and hydrofracturing wastewaters are being discharged into surface water locations at the points marked with red stars. Surface water withdrawals classified as agricultural, commercial, industrial, and mineral are identified on surface waters with the diamonds.

[image removed]

Also, read this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about a recent public health presentation conducted by Dan Volz, Chuck Christen, and Samantha Malone of CHEC that discusses the contaminants estimated to be entering the Mon from facilities receiving natural gas drilling waste fluids.

For those who live in the four-state river basin where DRBC controls drilling development [image removed] … the Delaware River Basin Commission issued a moratorium on further Marcellus drilling while they prepare regulations. The DRBC is one of the first regulatory agencies to impose such a restriction.