Hydraulic fracturing would jeopardize water supply

February 14, 2011

The Sun's editorial "Go slow on shale drilling" (Feb. 14) points out very well the risks of mining for gas by using hydraulic fracturing. But one risk not mentioned and that needs to be emphasized is the fact that if the amount of water needed for high volume hydraulic fracturing is used, the fresh water supply for ourselves and our children will be endangered.

High volume fracturing, which digs down to 10,000 feet to create fractures in shale through which natural gas can flow for collection, necessitates using millions of gallons of fresh water for each well; because it will be contaminated, this water will probably not be returned to the watershed.

Using fresh water to fracture a well at such great depths is an unsustainable use of fresh water resources, not only in Maryland but throughout the U.S. When the EPA held an "Opportunity for Stakeholder Input" meeting in July, 2010, for its 2011 study on the impact of hydraulic fracturing (HF) on drinking water, it stated in its invitation to participants: " It is estimated that it takes 2 to 5 million gallons of water to drill and fracture a well. …This could negatively affect the availability of water for drinking and other uses where HF is occurring."

We need to work with greater urgency on developing alternative sources of energy and diminishing our use of energy.

Jerry O'Leary, Baltimore

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