It doesn't make the flashiest of reads, but the findings on gas drilling in the region compiled by Dr. Paul Wendel, a former Mansfield University professor, are encouraging.
Wendel, now a professor at Otterbein University, recently presented results of a random study of 98 water wells in the Tioga County area to a public meeting of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group.
The study showed no "statistically significant" changes in conductivity, pH, calcium, strontium, barium or magnesium in water samples taken from randomly selected water wells near or further away from natural gas wells.
Wendel noted that there were several different testing methods used to make sure the results were the same. The testing was conducted on 52 permitted but undrilled gas sites and 46 permitted and drilled gas sites.
The only evidence of impact from gas well drilling appears to be slightly high pH levels, according to Wendel. But overall, there doesn't appear to be much significant change in the water well content from drilling.
While Wendel intends to come back in two years to reassess the situation, his study certainly indicates that the gas well drilling process is environmentally sound.
Whether people are pro- or anti-gas well drilling, we should all want that outcome. There are no guarantees with the environment, because there are so many factors involved, but the scientific findings of Professor Wendel at least produce some comfort.