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WV Professor Offers Advice to Track Drilling's Effects on Water

A professor and a team of students at Wheeling Jesuit University have advice for West Virginians worried that natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale field could hurt their water supplies.

Biology professor Ben Stout tells West Virginia Public Broadcasting that people should test their water daily with a conductivity pen they can buy online for $80 to $150. It measures the ability of dissolved materials to conduct electricity.

A kit from a federally certified lab can create a baseline for water quality by identifying those materials. He says people then must keep detailed records about conductivity, color, taste and odor.

Companies are rushing to tap the deposits underlying West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.

Meanwhile, legislators are struggling with how to regulate the water-intensive hydraulic fracturing technologies the wells require.

©2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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