WILL GAS PRODUCTION FROM THE MARCELLUS SHALE IMPACT WATER QUALITY IN THE SUSQUEHANNA RIVER? A SNAPSHOT OF WATER QUALITY IN THE SUSQUEHANNA IN SUMMER 2009
We analyzed triplicate water samples from each of three transects across the Susquehanna River: North Branch at Danville (Montour County), West Branch at Milton (Union County), and the Main Stem downstream of their confluence in Lower Augusta Township (Snyder/Northumberland County). We sampled at three stations at Milton, three at Danville, and six at Lower Augusta (three stations on either side of a mid-channel island). We analyzed pH, total dissolved solids and dissolved oxygen in situ. Large triplicate samples were collected. Turbidity was measured shore-side on the unfiltered samples. Alkalinity was determined shore-side immediately after sample filtering, always within an hour of collection. Additional filtered subsamples were acidified and kept chilled for later metal analysis of Ni, Pb, Mg, Ca, Mn, Cu, Fe, and Zn by flame atomic absorption and of Al by colorimetry. A third set of triplicate filtered subsamples was frozen for later analysis of sulfate, chloride, bromide, fluoride, nitrate, nitrite and phosphate by ion chromatography. Alkalinity and pH were similar at all sites, whereas samples from Milton were lowest in all other parameters except for sulfate and nitrate. No aluminum was detected at Milton sites, only a trace at Danville sites, and higher concentrations (up to 60 ppb) at Lower Augusta sites, especially at those near the island. Lead, copper and manganese were found only at Lower Augusta sites, also with most elevated concentrations near the island, indicating a potential influence of the island on river chemistry. This project was part of a larger study funded by the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies involving biological and chemical assessments of the Susquehanna River.