USGS: Fracking water quality data “scarce”
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey say there’s just not enough data to figure out the impact of fracking on water quality. The American Geophysical Union’s Water Resources Research published an article about the USGS study today.
“We mined the national water-quality databases from 1970 – 2010 and were able to assess long-term trends in only 16 percent of the watersheds with unconventional oil and gas resources,” said Zack Bowen, USGS scientist. “There are not enough data available to be able to assess potential effects of oil and gas development over large geographic areas.”
The researchers say public information on how hydraulic fracturing impacts water quality is “scarce,” and point out that no nationwide water-quality monitoring focusing on shale gas and shale oil production exists. Working within the limits of existing data, researchers found “no widespread and consistent trends in water quality, such as chloride and specific conductance, in areas where unconventional oil and gas wells are prevalent.”
The Environmental Protection Agency plans to publish its water quality study this spring. But a recent report by Inside Climate News shows how the EPA’s own data collection efforts were stymied by industry.
StateImpact Pennsylvania recently reported on how “citizen scientists” have stepped in to fill the gap in data collection.