W. Pa. residents say water ruined, state says no

PITTSBURGH (AP) — At least 10 households in western Pennsylvania fear their drinking water has been ruined by natural gas drilling, but state officials said tests don't show that.

"Everything was fine. Now, I don't use my water at all," said Kim McEvoy, who lives in Connoquenessing Township, about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh.

McEvoy and other residents say the water problems started about a year ago, after Rex Energy Corp. drilled two wells. But a map Rex provided also shows gas wells from other companies in the area.

The Department of Environmental Protection tested the water of those who complained and found no evidence that oil or gas drilling caused problems, said spokesman John Poister.

Rex Energy said in a statement Wednesday that testing by an independent company found no notable differences in pre and post-drilling water chemistry in the neighborhood. There are also old oil wells in the area that could impact water quality.

But others say something did change early last year.

"We never had a problem until January, 2011," said Janet McIntyre, another resident. She said some of the water tests done over the last year showed very high levels of iron, manganese, and traces of Toluene.

"There's people who have orange water, black water, yellow water," she said.

People in the neighborhood said Rex Energy has sent letters notifying them it will no longer deliver drinking water to the households after Feb. 29.

Poister said that without evidence of contamination, there's little officials can do.

"We don't see anything that is particularly unsafe," Poister said. "Right now, based on the science, their water is not contaminated."

McEvoy and other residents said they're trying to get local officials to hook the neighborhood up to a public water supply, but there's no indication when or if that might happen.