When the Lycoming County Community Gas Drilling Task Force was created about two years ago, one of the first orders of business was to develop a Web site providing information about local drilling activity and other information related to gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale region.
"It was probably the first product as a result of the task force," task force chairwoman and county Commissioner Rebecca A. Burke said.
"The goal of the task force was to learn as much as we could about the Marcellus play and the industry working in it and have this information ... that was reliable and informative available to the public," she said.
The site, which is accessible via the Community Gas Exploration Task Force link on the county home page at www.lyco.org, contains a map showing gas well site locations, provides answers to frequently asked questions, task force member contact information and lists of gas industry companies that have located in the area or anticipate locating to the area, Burke said.
"The primary purpose is to be a site for community information," she said.
Much of the information is provided through the commissioners' office, though the county Department of Planning and Community Development oversees the map showing active gas drilling activity, Burke said.
Burke said several other counties in the Marcellus Shale region became interested in the task force and Web site with the idea of replicating it.
The county provides one of several Web-based information sources through which citizens can monitor gas drilling or gas-related activities.
The state Department of Environmental Protection maintains a Web site that offers information on a wide range of gas-related activity, DEP spokesman Dan Spadoni said.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission maintains a Web portal through which the public can view consumptive water use permit applications and authorizations for gas drilling companies, according to commission spokeswoman Susan Obleski.
DEP information can be accessed from the agency's home page by way of a "quick access" menu, which is located on the left-hand column of the page, Spadoni said.
From that menu, click "oil and gas," which will bring up the agency's oil and gas program page.
From that page, click "reports," which brings up a page from which a vast amount of information about drilling activity can be accessed, he said.
The page contains links to permit and rig activity reports, an active well inventory, annual production reports and other information.
Permit and rig activity information is broken down by month, county and well type, Spadoni said.
The site also provides information by year going back to 1998, he said.
An "eFacts" link - accessible on the "reports" page - provides data on permits, industry operators, wells and inspections.
"Citizens can look at the database for inspections and any type of violations," Spadoni said. "They can do that by client, county, name search, municipality or site name."
"There is just a whole bunch of stuff," Spadoni said.
The site also provides access to e-mail notices - called "e-notices" - on a wide range of permits involving the gas industry, Spadoni said.
By registering for the service, citizens can be alerted by e-mail of permit activity in an area.
There are more than 10,000 e-notice subscribers, Spadoni said.
Over the last 30 days, there have been more than 10,000 views of the Marcellus Shale page developed by the agency, and more than 8,000 views each of the oil and gas home page and rig activity report page, he said.
The river basin commission recently launched a Web-based "water resource portal" to provide useful information on water withdrawal and consumptive use authorization applications and approvals, Obleski said.
The commission oversees water quantity issues in the Susquehanna River basin and must authorize every drop of water used by the gas industry in the basin.
The site contains not only information about the gas industry, but all industries and activities requiring water withdrawal or consumptive use authorizations from the commission.
"(Citizens) can get a list of all projects from a specific company, approved projects or pending projects," Obleski said.
"They can search by project or sponsor name, or get a full list if they don't know what it's called," she said.
Portal users also may subscribe to updates based on project location or sponsor, Obleski said.
The portal, which can be accessed at www.srbc.net/wrp, is an effort by the commission to "improve the quality of information on our Web site for the benefit of our Web site users," she said.
Burke said she believes the Internet is a good way of keep local residents informed about fast-paced changes as they occur within the industry.
"The industry is changing daily (and) the opportunities are changing daily," Burke said. "We will continue to put up reliable information for our constituents."