New York State is pending new rules for the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Trenton Black River rock formation in Chemung County is an area where companies have been drilling for natural gas and may now experience an increase in gas production if the new rules are approved.
The danger for humans is in the possible contamination of drinking water but there are environmental impacts as well such as ecosystem disruption and the use of millions of gallons of water per each drilling well. A lawsuit was filed for contaminated drinking water in Chemung County, but the New York Department of Environmental Conservation found that it was unlikely that the gas wells caused methane contamination of the water wells.
Navarro, Mireya. “In Drilling Safety Debate, Hydrofracking’s Not the Only Target”. The New York Times. 28 December, 2011.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has recently reported on the condition of the United States’ community-based-drinking-water systems and public wastewater treatment facilities. Unless the systems are improved and modernized serious problems could arise in future years. The drinking-water systems are aging and rusting while the wastewater treatment facilities fail so often that 900 billion gallons of untreated sewage are discharged each year.
It is estimated by the EPA that to modernize the county’s water systems would cost $91 billion, but only $35 million is available. Not only does this pose a public health and environmental concern but also an economic problem. Thousands of jobs are directly related to the availability and quality of water such as wineries and chemical plants. Because water service infrastructure is located below ground it is easy to not notice the deterioration. But when the systems break it also causes huge damage to roadways and other public infrastructure.
A possible solution? Put public municipal infrastructure in the hands of private companies who often can borrow money for repairs at more favorable interest rates than local or state governments.
Barringer, Felicity. “Oh Danny Boy, the Pipes, the Pipes Are Failing”. The New York Times. 20 December, 2011.
Quality of water you use and consume can have huge effects upon your health. Water can be polluted by many different sources, making local water unsafe for swimming, fishing, and consumption. River Network noted that in some communities where they have been involved in water quality issues, “residents have been confronting high numbers of miscarriages, neurological problems, cancer and other disorders likely related to exposure to contamination.” River Network has teamed up with TERC to create a guidebook to bring awareness to communities interested in the quality of their water. This guide addresses watershed contamination issues and how monitoring can be done effectively. READ THE GUIDE HERE.
Source: River Network
Scott Jablonski, VERTICES Intern
Here at IMRivers, we recognize how important community involvement can be in maintaining the health of our waterways. We developed an interactive map called North Carolina Muddy Water Watch, which allows concerned citizens to post pictures and descriptions of violations they witnessed that could have a negative effect upon the health of surrounding waterways. Many of these violations go unnoticed by regulatory agencies, but with the help of our interactive mapping services and a handful of concerned citizens, these violations can be made public for all to see and the situation can be dealt with accordingly.
Scott Jablonski, VERTICES Intern