It can be unnerving to have oil and gas operations running near residential areas. There is a growing body of research that suggests there are potential health impacts to people living near hydrofracking or “fracking” wells. Most of these impacts relate to contaminated drinking water. A recent study by Duke University found that 82% of homes located less than 1km of a fracking well in Pennsylvania experienced a decline in the quality of drinking water due to high methane, ethane, and propane levels. Water quantity is also a concern, since it was already demonstrated in northern Michigan that water withdrawals used during fracking can drop the water table. A home in Cheboygan County, Michigan experienced this in 2011 when their water table dropped 11 feet due to nearby fracking operations.
Many communities in North America are wrestling with hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” and northern Michigan is among them. Freshwater Future saw a need to help protect homeowners who were at risk from potential contamination and met that need by developing our Fracking Monitoring Program. The program acts like insurance for those who are concerned. We help homeowners have their drinking water tested before fracking happens, so that there is recourse if pollution occurs. This pilot program is currently rolling out in northern Michigan, and hopes to expand in the future. Tracy Skinner of Alanson, Michigan is participating in the program and highly recommends it. “I became concerned about how potential fracking in my area may change my quality of life and my drinking water. Several permits have been issued near me and I had been trying to learn more about how to evaluate my drinking water to establish a baseline of water quality. A friend of mine explained the program that Freshwater Future started that would help accomplish just that,” explains Skinner. “I was relieved to hear about the option for testing. I hope my drinking water doesn’t become contaminated from chemicals pumped into the ground, but if it is, I will at least be able to establish that those chemicals weren’t there before fracking.”
More information about our program and fracking in the Great Lakes basin is available on our website. If you or someone you know is near a potential fracking operation, call today to talk with our staff about getting your water tested. You can reach Emily Whittaker, Policy Specialist, at 231-373-3670 or by email at Emily@freshwaterfuture.org.