WINDSOR - Residents gathered at the Windsor Community Center here Monday evening to learn about water testing that could protect their rights in the event of contamination from drilling.
Chris Stefan of Summit Environmental Technologies of Cuyahoga Falls gave a presentation on drinking water testing that is certified and recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Complaints of drinking water and ground water contamination from hydraulic fracturing and other forms of oil and gas extraction and injection well waste disposal methods have increased in the wake of Marcellus and Utica Shale play exploration.
Stefan explained the testing process and the role it can play in holding drillers accountable for any contamination that could occur.
He said the EPA recommends three-tier testing for various chemicals to establish base levels prior to any drilling activity. He added that the EPA recommends regular testing, quarterly if possible.
Stefan also shared the EPA's accepted levels of various chemicals and compounds.
Water tests recommended by EPA:
Tier one tests reveal the levels of barium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, sodium, strontium, sulfates, total dissolved solids and total alkalinity pH.
Tier two tests for calcium, hardness, iron, manganese, specific conductivity, total suspended solids and bromide, as well as all tier one parameters.
Tier three tests for tiers one and two parameters as well as dissolved methane levels, benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzen.
Many residents said they were curious about the process and how it would hold up in court if the worst occurs. Stefan said his company's tests have held up in court when necessary.
Vanessa Pesec of the Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection was present and said while water testing is important, the tests do not provide all the information necessary to prove culpability on the part of drillers.
Until then, she says even water testing is a hollow protection.
"The driller's just going to say 'prove it was me,'" she said.
Also present was Warren attorney Michael Grove, who spoke on old leases and how they could affect landowners striking their own deal and reaping the signing bonus.
Grove said many low-producing or nonproducing Clinton Shale wells from the 1970s and 1980s may still be under lease. If there is an existing lease on a property, the landowner cannot enter into an new one.
Grove said many Clinton drillers are not likely to give up their lease rights because it allows them to determine which deep-well driller could take over the lease and the well for Marcellus and Utica development.
He has written many of the lease titles for the Clinton wells in Trumbull and surrounding counties and in Pennsylvania.
"Just because you're not getting a royalty check every month doesn't mean your land is not leased," he said.