CHARACTERIZING WATER QUALITY IN SOUTHERN NEW YORK STATE BEFORE HYDRAULIC FRACTURING: PROJECT SWIFT (SHALE-WATER INTERACTION FORENSIC TOOLS)
Project SWIFT (Shale-Water Interaction Forensic Tools) at Syracuse University aims to create a pre-hydraulic fracturing snapshot of background water quality in the Southern Tier counties of NYS, where drilling will likely be approved. In summer 2012, we sampled stream water (n=19) and groundwater (n=60) from domestic water supply wells drilled into bedrock within a regularly spaced grid. We collected samples from private water wells drilled into bedrock throughout 4 counties identified for future Marcellus Shale drilling. Samples were analyzed for a suite of cations, anions, trace metals, and isotopes. We compared the geochemistry of shallow groundwater and stream water to published geochemical data for Appalachian Basin brines sampled in southern NYS. Geochemical mixing relationships indicate the presence of minor amounts (<1%) of formation brines in shallow groundwater in the absence of hydraulic fracturing. Our geochemical results indicate halogens and elemental ratios may be the best indicators of salinity derived from mixing with formation waters, versus salinity derived from other sources. We plan to improve public access to water quality data by making our data available through a web-hosted GIS interface. We also hope to develop sensitive new tracers aimed at unequivocally identifying whether contamination related to hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus occurs or not. Please visit our website at swift.syr.edu.