The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday released a report describing how it will pursue its study of the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies. "The EPA has designed the scope of the research around five stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle," it said. The five areas being studied for their impact on ground and surface sources of drinking water are: large water withdrawals; spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids; injection wells and the fracturing process; spills of flowback and produced water; and inadequate treatment of wastewater. It will examine each issue using "existing data, scenario evaluations, laboratory studies, toxicity assessments and case studies."
The agency began its research last year. It's expected to complete it in 2014. As of September, it said it had information on fracturing chemicals and practices on 24,925 wells fractured between September 2009 and October 2010. It will also take data from FracFocus, an intergovernmental disclosure site of fracturing fluids supported by energy companies. "Two rounds of sampling at five case study locations in Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas have been completed," and water samples "have been collected from over 70 domestic water wells, 15 monitoring wells and 13 surface water sources," a summary of the progress report said.
-- Jim Fuquay