EPA Releases Draft Assessment on Fracking’s Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a draft assessment on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, activities on drinking water resources in the United States. The assessment shows that while fracking has not yet led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources, there are potential vulnerabilities.

The assessment, which came at the request of Congress, follows the water used for fracking from acquisition, chemical mixing at the well pad site, injection of fracking fluids, and wastewater collection, treatment and disposal. Data did reveal specific incidences where well integrity and wastewater management could be directly related to fracking activities, but it was small compared to the large number of wells across the country. Additionally, the potential vulnerabilities identified in the report are not unique to fracking activity.

Potential drinking water vulnerabilities include:

  • Water withdrawals in areas with low water availabilty;
  • Fracking activity conducted directly into formations containing drinking water resources;
  • Inadequately cased or cemented wells resulting in below ground migration of gases and liquid;
  • Inadequately treated wastewater discharged into drinking water resources; and
  • Fracking fluids and wastewater spills.

EPA also released nine peer-reviewed scientific reports that contributed to the findings outlined in the draft assessment. The study will be finalized after review by the Science Advisory Board and public review and comment. Submit your comments here.

About Katie Regan

Katie Regan serves as the Communications Specialist for Environmental Health, Pandemic Preparedness, and Catastrophic Response at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices through NACCHO's various storytelling and communications channels. Twitter: @katiejregan

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