Chemung County is joining its counterparts throughout New York in asking the state for help to pay for increased staffing to handle anticipated demand to test drinking water due to gas well development in the Marcellus Shale.

The Chemung County Board of Health this week approved a resolution asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to provide funding to cover completely the cost of additional staffing and resources to investigate complaints about drinking water, should hydraulic fracturing be approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Local health departments have been specifically identified in the DEC's revised draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement as being responsible for responding to all initial complaints about water related to drilling, said Tom Kump, director of environmental health for the Chemung County Health Department.

"That's going to put a huge burden on us, and we're looking at that as an unfunded mandate," Kump said. "We'll do the best we can, but at some point we'll just get saturated where we just can't respond."

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