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Consol Energy subsidiary agrees to settlement over water usage

Marcellus Shale gas well developer, CNX Gas Co. LLC, has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle state violations alleging it exceeded its water withdrawal limits from a reservoir in north Franklin, Washington County, on multiple occasions from 2011 through 2014.

The settlement agreement was announced Thursday by the Pennsylvania Department of environmental Protection, which will receive $345,750, and the state Fish and Boat Commission, which will get $105,000.

According to the DEP news release, CNX, a subsidiary of Consol Energy Inc., violated its state water withdrawal permit on 43 days between October 2011 and june 2013. And on 164 days between October 2013 and December 2014, CNX withdrew water from the reservoir despite limiting restrictions set by the Fish and Boat Commission.

Those illegal withdrawals resulted in, “low water levels in the reservoir, drying out of the shallow shoreline areas and the surrounding forested wetlands,” the release said.

“Protecting the waters of the Commonwealth is a core function of both DEP and the PFBC and this agreement underscores the fact that, together, we take this responsibility very seriously,” said Eric Gustafson, DEP manager for Oil and Gas Operations in the Southwest Oil and Gas District Office. “We expect that operators will follow their water management plans and draw-down permits to the letter.”

CNX drills and hydraulically fractures shale gas wells, each of which can use upwards of 4 million gallons of water.

Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway said non-compliance with the water withdrawal plans could result in harm to other water users, fish populations and public water supplies.

Related: Energy Future, creditors reach settlement over bankruptcy plan.

Don Hopey: dhopey@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1983 or on Twitter @donhopey 

This article was written by Don Hopey from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.