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Boback Reintroduces Drinking Water Safety Bill

Would require natural gas wells to be at least 1,000 feet from any waterway 

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Columbia/Luzerne/Wyoming) today announced her plan to reintroduce legislation that would increase the required distance between natural gas wells and waterways and would require well operators to notify landowners within a certain proximity of proposed gas wells. 

“My number one concern when it comes to the development of the Marcellus Shale is the safety of our waterways,” said Boback.  “Natural gas drilling is an important economic engine for our region and state, but it must be done safely.  The Commonwealth is the steward of our water resources.  They are a public resource that must be safeguarded.” 

Boback’s legislation would require that any drilling permit application contain the names of all surface landowners with water supplies within 5,500 feet of a proposed well.  The permit applicant would be required by the proposal to provide all named landowners with a plat plan. 

The legislation also would require permit applications to include: 

  • The zone of influence on groundwater.
  • An analysis of the travel time of a release to the nearest waterway.
  • The inclusion of an emergency contingency plan. 

The legislation enumerates certain stipulations for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as well.  The department would be required to notify all public drinking water operators within the watershed of drilling permit applications within 10 days of receipt.  The bill also directs DEP to convene a meeting among the well operator, the department and the public water supply operator within 25 days to review the application, and publish a notice about the permit in the PA Bulletin. 

Finally, Boback’s legislation would place limits on the proximity of proposed wells to waterways.  It specifies that no well site that uses hydraulic fracking or horizontal drilling may be drilled within 3,000 feet of or under any drinking water reservoir, community water system or lake that is located within the boundaries of a borough or second-class township.  It also increases the distance required between a gas well and the nearest building or waterway to 1,000 feet. 

“This legislation provides extra levels of environmental protection, which are vitally important,” said Boback.  “There are inherent environmental challenges associated with the development of the Marcellus Shale, but I believe with proper regulation and oversight, Pennsylvania can enjoy the economic benefits of this resource while preserving the natural beauty of our landscape and protecting the health and safety of our citizens.” 

More information about Boback and her legislative priorities is available at and  

State Representative Karen Boback
117th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Nicole Wamsley

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