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Delaware River Drinking Water Threatened

Weekly Press: Delaware River Drinking Water Threatened

Philadelphians tend to take their abundant, cheap drinking water for granted. However, the quality, quantity, and price tag of clean water in the Delaware River basin, source of Philadelphia’s drinking water, may be at risk due to a new natural gas extraction process called hydrofracking, or fracking. Fracking uses huge amounts of water, mixed with toxic chemicals and injected at high pressure, to fracture the Marcellus Shale, releasing the shale’s natural gas. The Marcellus Shale formation stretches from Ohio through Pennsylvania to New York and is believed to contain enough natural gas to fuel the U.S. for 13 years. But fracking creates polluted wastewater (“frac water”) which is several times saltier than the ocean and contains heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Municipal wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped for this level of pollution, and according to Sierra Club testimony before Congress, “a technological solution may be years away.”

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