Denis DuBay: Where water goes

March 9, 2013 

Where water goes

Debate rages over where to dispose of fracking’s wastewater that comes back up from underground, but what about the two-thirds of fracking fluids pumped deep into the ground that do not immediately resurface? Each well requires 3 million to 5 million gallons of toxic water pumped deep underground, but only one-third of that is recovered. The rest stays underground, moving around, diffusing its toxins, perhaps finding its way through rock fractures to drinking water sources. That’s 2 million to 3.3 million gallons of toxic fracking wastewater intentionally never recovered, for each well.

As former state geologist Tyler Clark said about injecting wastewater into this region, “Once you put it in the ground, it’s not going to stay there; it’s going to go somewhere. ... It would be hard to predict where it could travel.”

We’re talking about land underlying Jordan Lake, as well as the Deep, Rocky and Cape Fear rivers. Based on a recent study of the Flat River in Durham, groundwater in this part of the state contributes about 40 percent of the water found in these rivers, and thus 40 percent of the water found in Jordan Lake, drinking water sources for Cary, Raleigh, Sanford and cities and towns downstream.

Denis DuBay


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