District receives grants for monitoring project

The Elk County Conservation District recently received two grants to help fund the Elk County Monitoring Project. The district received a grant for $146,000 from the Colcom Foundation and $65,000 from the Stackpole Hall Foundation. The monitoring project is designed to keep an eye on stream conditions in the wake of the Marcellus Shale drilling. The total project cost for the 4-year program is estimated at $329,330.One of the objectives of the project is to establish a real-time monitoring network at areas of concern in Elk County. By installing equipment, an early warning system would be in place in case of a pollution event; the system would allow a timely emergency response.“It will have an early warning system, in case of a a pollution event, especially if it's in our drinking water watersheds,” said Elk County Watershed Specialist Kim Bonfardine. “We are highly concerned about that area -- I would like to get a system set up in there.” Another goal of the project is to establish baseline water quality conditions in targeted areas throughout Elk County, including private water wells, surface water, groundwater, springs, seeps, wetlands and other water resources.According to Bonfardine, they will be able to provide quality water data to the water authorities, agencies, organizations, local communities and the public by establishing a website that will display real-time dataAnother objective is to monitor the current, cumulative and long-term environmental impacts of natural gas extraction in the county.“That was a big thing for the people that gave us the funding for this project because they are interested in finding out the impacts,” Bonfardine said. “That was a big part of this grant.”