On March 6, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey released the test results of 75 private drinking water wells in Lycoming County, in north-central Pennsylvania. USGS found that water from most of the sampled wells contain concentrations of radon that exceed a proposed, non-binding health standard for drinking water and that some wells contain concentrations of arsenic or methane that exceed existing drinking water standards.
USGS states in its press release that the tests were carried out in 2014, in part, to assess the natural characteristics of local groundwater and the potential effects of land uses, including natural gas production, on local water supplies. Significantly, USGS found that water wells near unconventional development were of similar quality to water wells previously sampled in Wayne County – where unconventional development is not permitted.
Pennsylvania does not have comprehensive regulations governing the drilling and maintenance of private drinking water wells. The relatively high number of naturally contaminated water wells in the Commonwealth highlights the importance of conducting comprehensive water quality sampling prior to unconventional development.