-The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is holding a public hearing today at the Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor Center, 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing regarding various water-related projects.
The hearing is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. It will be followed by a business meeting on Wednesday.
According to the DRBC website, hearing items will include draft dockets for withdrawals, discharges, and other water-related projects.
You can view the draft dockets by visiting http://www.nj.gov/drbc/meetings/upcoming/. Additional public records relating to the hearing items may be examined at the commission's offices.
You can contact Project Review Section assistant Victoria Lawson at 609-883-9500, extension 216, with any questions concerning these items.
Over 36 different items that will be discussed during the hearing.
One of the issues at hand is DRBC's non-decision about water regulations about water withdrawal.
“The decision making regarding regulations of water withdrawal used in the fracking process is an important issue for many in Wayne County,” said Wayne County Commissioner Wendall Kay. “People feel strongly both ways about the topic. I think it's important for people to make their opinions known.”
Not only has the issue been a hot topic among the public, it is also a concern for the commissioners.
“We've been concerned and frustrated like a lot of people that the DRBC has not been able to make a decision regarding reasonable regulations,” Kay stated. “We feel it's their responsibility to at least vote on the topic and let people know what the future holds so people can prepare accordingly. We're now in limbo.”
Kay added the DRBC hasn't said they'll approve, but they also haven't said they won't approve.
“This has left many questions in the mind of many residents in Wayne County,” Kay said.
He also said there are a “very limited number” of test wells in Wayne County and that companies want to draw water from the Delaware River “to drill on a scale to be commercially available.”
“You can drill a water well and draw from that, but there won't be a sufficient volume of water produced that way,” Kay said. “That's why they want to go to the Delaware River.”
He also said there are no producing natural gas wells in Wayne County, which means there are no gas wells in the county producing gas for commercial sale.
“Wells that were drilled as test wells were capped off when the companies were done,” Kay said.
Kay added that in general, if you have a water well that it's a “good idea” to have them tested from time to time.
This is also part of the reason why the commissioners have been supporting groups like the Wayne County Conservation District that are trying to get ground water studies done in the county.
Page 2 of 2 - “The unintended benefits of it was that it made people get their wells tested and around 50 percent had some biological contaminant,” he said. “It's a good idea to get them tested from time to time. There's also the side benefit of improving health.”
The commissioners are hoping the DRBC will make a decision soon.
“We're hoping they pass reasonable regulations that will allow drilling to continue, but also allow it in such a way that water systems and aquifers aren't compromised,” Kay stated. “I think it can be done.”
He added that groups like the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) have passed reasonable regulations.
“That's the reason why there's drilling in other parts of the area,” Kay said. “As far as I know there haven't been any major problems. We're looking for the DRBC to pass reasonable regulations, but with common sense, to allow the activity but to also protect everyone at the same time.”