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Water Industry Admits Fracking Compromises UK's Water Supply

Fracking
Water Industry Admits Fracking Compromises UK's Water Supply

Today, two industry groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating that their members will minimize the impact of onshore oil and gas development in the UK on the country’s water resources.

The memorandum accompanies a report released by Water UK. The report concludes that "where water is in short supply there may not be enough available from public water supplies or the environment to meet the requirements for hydraulic fracturing."

While the aim of the mutual agreement was to give the public greater confidence and reassurance that everything will be done to minimize the effects on water resources and the environment during fracking, some organizations are speaking out against agreement.

"Water is a key concern for people in areas where drilling is proposed, particularly among farmers, who're worried for their livestock," said Greenpeace energy spokesperson Anna Jones. "A voluntary agreement between Water UK and its major new client is unlikely to alleviate these concerns."

Under the memorandum, members of Water UK and UK Onshore Operators Group pledge to work together to identify and resolve risks around water or wastewater including:

  • Baseline monitoring requirements to assess impacts of onshore oil and gas development on the quality and quantity of local water resources.
  • Plans relating to site water management, especially water reuse, to improve understanding of local impacts.
  • Onshore oil and gas company development plans, including scenarios for expansion of exploration and development within a local area and what this means for short and long-term demand for water at specific locations.
  • The expected volumes and chemical and biological composition of waste water as well as preferred disposal routes.

“This agreement acknowledges that fracking will impact and affect the UK’s water resources and environment," Jones said. But she also warns, “you will never regulate away the risks of fracking."

The UK is not the only nation feeling a strain on water resources from the fracking boom. In the U.S. record temperatures this summer led to water shortages and drought in states like Texas and Colorado. According to an AP analysis, the vast majority of counties in these states have fracking operations. In October, a report was released showing that the volumes of water used for fracking in the Marcellus Shale states of West Virginia and Pennsylvania are putting a major strain on freshwater reserves.

“The desperate search for shale gas and oil mustn’t be allowed to cause water shortages for critical public purposes," said Tony Bosworth, a Friends of the Earth campaigner.

"Fracking is not the solution to our energy problems—it won’t lead to cheaper energy bills," Bosworth said. "The government should pull the plug on its dash for dirty shale gas and develop Britain’s plentiful renewable power potential."   

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

  

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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