A relatively short pipeline project to flow water from the Susquehanna River in Tunkhannock (Wyoming County), PA to a water impoundment about seven miles away is, as of February, under construction.
The water will be used in drilling and fracking Marcellus wells in the region–we suspect not only for drilling in Wyoming County, which has produced the seventh highest amount of shale gas in the state, but also in neighboring Susquehanna County, which is the #1 shale gas producing county in the state.
We have to confess that although this project has been in the planning stages for at least two, likely three years, this is the first we’ve heard or read about it. The company building and operating the pipeline is Northeast Marcellus Aqua Midstream I, LLC. We’re taking a wild guess that it’s a subsidiary of Aqua Midstream, a midstream company based in Texas focused on supply water and wastewater services to drillers. But we don’t know that for sure. NE Marcellus Aqua Midstream was formed in August 2017 as a Delaware corporation–showing this project was conceived in at least 2017, perhaps back in 2016.
What we do know is that construction began on Feb. 4 and will take about six months to build. The project, once done and flowing water, will reduce truck traffic passing through downtown Tunkhannock. It’ll also provide Marcellus drillers in the region with a cheaper source of water.
Here’s an update on the project from the local daily newspaper, the Wyoming County Examiner:
The Northeast Marcellus Shale water line project is underway in Wyoming County.
After originally resisting it, Tunkhannock Borough Council approved plans for the project last April, which would transport water to an impoundment in Lemon Township from the Susquehanna River along McCord and Harrison Streets and northbound Route 29.
Frank Tunis, legal counsel for NE Marcellus, said crews from TSE Inc. began installing the water line on Feb. 4 and targeted to install about 500 feet of pipe a day over a six-month period, totalling seven miles of pipe at the completion of the project.
“The project is clearly in its beginning stages. We’re starting to install the pipe. We started up in Lemon Township, Route 29,” Tunis said.
Tunis said a decision hasn’t been made as to when construction will begin on Harrison and McCord streets.
“The weather being what it is, we didn’t want to get started yet but will be making a decision pretty quickly as to when we anticipate starting there,” he said.
Tunkhannock Township supervisor Randy White, who also serves as Triton Fire Chief, said NE Marcellus has also agreed to place six fire hydrants. Starting at the corner of Bridge and Harrison Streets, one will be strategically placed every mile.
White said the township needs to set up a meeting with NE Marcellus to nail down the particular placements of the hydrants and when they will be installed.
At the township’s last meeting, supervisors discussed placing the line and the pumping stations.
White said one pump station will go at the bypass by Dunkin’ Donuts, and the other in the area near the Williams office. NE Marcellus has told the supervisors that another pump station will be placed further north, but they have not decided on an exact location.
Ed Harding, who owns Harding’s Dairy Bar, brought up a concern about who would be regulating the water pressure at a recent township meeting.
White said NE Marcellus is in charge of that.
The Tunkhannock Area School District also had concerns about bus traffic during construction of the water line.
Chief Operating Officer Shane Powers said the district is keeping buses on the same route that was established for UGI’s Get Gas project, which will also support the NE Marcellus project. Occasionally, buses have to deal with a single lane on Route 29 North, but this hasn’t been an issue, she said.
Tunis said NE Marcellus is continuously working with Tunkhannock and Lemon Townships, Tunkhannock Borough, the water authority and Triton Hose Company, as well as their legal counsel and engineers.
“We’ve been working with them throughout this entire process,” he said.
In the end, Tunis said the water line will help eliminate truck traffic through downtown Tunkhannock and provide more easily accessible water for Marcellus, the gas industry.
Disturbances to residents and traffic are nothing out of the ordinary from any other construction project, Tunis said, but he noted that crews aren’t in one location for very long for this project.
“We’re installing pipe in every day and moving constantly,” he said. “It’s not a project centered in one location. Where we’re at today, we won’t be at tomorrow.”*
After reading about the project, we thought to ourselves, “This must have been approved by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission at some point. We wonder how much water it will flow?” So we went looking and sure enough, in June 2018 the SRBC approved the project (approval below). Reading through the paperwork we learn the project has permission to flow up to 5 million gallons of water per day from the Susquehanna River. We also learn that during the “summer” months of July through October, when the river runs less water, there are tighter restrictions on how much/how fast the pipeline is allowed to flow.
*Tunkhannock (PA) Wyoming County Examiner (Mar 13, 2019) – NE Marcellus water line underway
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