The Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council formally pleads for protection from the gas-drilling procedure — its stance buoyed by recently announced federal findings about hydrocarbons associated with fracking chemicals in the groundwater beneath a Wyoming community.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the first time has implicated hydraulic fracturing — a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells — for causing groundwater pollution.
The EPA’s findings add fuel to a growing movement to protect watersheds and communities statewide.
This past week, the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council became one of the latest groups to plead formally for protection from the gas drilling procedure, also called hydrofracking, which involves blasting chemical-laced water into the ground. The council consists of leaders representing the 14 municipalities dependent on Canandaigua Lake for their drinking water.
“Based on the current technology of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and the proposed regulations, we believe that this method of drilling for natural gas poses unacceptable risks to the lifeblood of this region,” the council stated in a detailed letter to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens.
Ontario County Watershed Manager Kevin Olvany said the letter signed by the council urges the DEC to look to the EPA’s national comprehensive study on the impact of fracking. The study is due to be completed by the end of 2012.
“We appreciate the DEC’s efforts in reviewing and visiting the locations in Pennsylvania where problems occurred,” states the letter from the council, members of which include Canandaigua’s Mayor Ellen Polimeni and Town Supervisor Sam Casella. “However, we think a nationwide study completed by the federal EPA will provide a more comprehensive review of the potential impacts from high-volume hydrofracking that will better inform the DEC on proper regulations along with informing our local municipalities on the appropriate level of land use regulations."
The EPA announced this month that it found compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals in the groundwater beneath a Wyoming community where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals. Health officials advised them not to drink their water after the EPA found hydrocarbons in their wells. The EPA announcement has major implications for a vast increase in gas drilling in the United States in recent years. Fracking has played a large role in opening up many reserves.
The industry has long contended that fracking is safe, but environmentalists and some residents who live near drilling sites say it has poisoned groundwater.
Meanwhile, municipalities in Ontario County are among those statewide enacting bans or moratoriums against fracking. On Monday, concerned residents in Bristol will ask the Town Board during its 7 p.m. meeting at the Town Hall, 6740 County Road 32, to set a public hearing on a moratorium. Resident Penny Cox said she plans to make a presentation, along with others, calling attention to the potentials dangers of fracking.
“I hope for a one-year moratorium,” she said, “to give plenty of time to look into this issue.”
Page 2 of 2 - The Associated Press contributed to this report.