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July 16, 2012
Scranton Times Tribune
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Commission suspends water withdrawals on low river levels
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission Monday expanded the list of suspended water withdrawals from 37 to 64, affecting natural gas exploration companies, golf courses and other businesses with permits to take water from rivers or streams.
Low river and stream levels in the watershed triggered the suspensions.
Under SRBC regulations, when streams drop to predetermined protected low flow levels, operators who are required to meet the agency’s passby requirement must stop taking water until streams recover, which typically happens after a return to normal rainfall.
“We want people to know that this is not a static list and that it can expand and contract with river levels,” said commission spokesperson Susan Obleski.
The suspension is not a ban on water withdrawals, she noted. Water-related activities will continue, even among some companies on the suspension list. Ms. Obleski said often a company will have several withdrawal permits for different locations on a stream or river. This is particularly common among natural gas companies. Also, withdrawals of less than 100,000 gallons per day and not associated with natural gas development are not subject to commission regulation.
A total of 33 companies in 14 counties are affected by the suspension, including Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.
According to the National Weather Service, rainfall from June 1 to July 15 was 2.5 inches below normal.
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Drinking Water Contamination