California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers
State’s drought has forced farmers to rely on groundwater, even as California aquifers have been intentionally polluted due to exemptions for oil industry.
by Abrahm Lustgarten
This is part of an ongoing investigation:End of excerpt
The Story So Far
The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.
Poisoning the Well: How the Feds Let Industry Pollute the Nation’s Underground Water Supply - ProPub
The potential impact of waste from oil and gas drilling — including hydraulic fracturing — on drinking water has been an issue in Texas, Wyoming and, with great urgency, in California this month. Here, a jar of fracking water waste is displayed at a recycling site in Midland, Texas. (Pat Sullivan/AP Photo) California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state's drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.
The state's Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources on July 7 issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies warning that they may be injecting their waste into aquifers that could be a source of drinking water, and stating that their waste disposal "poses danger to life, health, property, and natural resources." The orders were first reported by the Bakersfield Californian, and the state has confirmed with ProPublica that its investigation is expanding to look at additional wells.
The action comes as California's agriculture industry copes with a drought crisis that has emptied reservoirs and cost the state $2.2 billion this year alone. The lack of water has forced farmers across the state to supplement their water supply from underground aquifers, according to a study released this week by the University of California Davis.
The problem is that at least 100 of the state's aquifers were presumed to be useless for drinking and farming because the water was either of poor quality, or too deep underground to easily access. Years ago, the state exempted them from environmental protection and allowed the oil and gas industry to intentionally pollute them. But not all aquifers are exempted, and the system amounts to a patchwork of protected and unprotected water resources deep underground. Now, according to the cease and desist orders issued by the state, it appears that at least seven injection wells are likely pumping waste into fresh water aquifers protected by the law, and not other aquifers sacrificed by the state long ago.
"The aquifers in question with respect to the orders that have been issued are not exempt," said Ed Wilson, a spokesperson for the California Department of Conservation in an email.
A 2012 ProPublica investigation of more than 700,000 injection wells across the country found that wells were often poorly regulated and experienced high rates of failure, outcomes that were likely polluting underground water supplies that are supposed to be protected by federal law. That investigation also disclosed a little-known program overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that exempted more than 1,000 other drinking water aquifers from any sort of pollution protection at all, many of them in California.
Those are the aquifers at issue today. The exempted aquifers, according to documents the state filed with the U.S. EPA in 1981 and obtained by ProPublica, were poorly defined and ambiguously outlined. They were often identified by hand-drawn lines on a map, making it difficult to know today exactly which bodies of water were supposed to be protected, and by which aspects of the governing laws. Those exemptions and documents were signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown, who also was governor in 1981.
How much more evidence do we need to know that the EPA is also in the pockets of the oil/gas industry as well as politicians on both sides of the aisle? The blatant leniency given to the fracking industry from exempting it from the Safe Drinking Water Act all the way down to how they dispose of their toxic waste is criminal. Now people in this region not only have less water (due to their own wastefulness, fracking, industrial farms and also to the effects of climate change) but the chance of it being toxic is increased by the exemptions given to the oil/gas industry regarding safeguarding it! This is also not good since farmers have been digging deeper to tap aquifers. Honestly, I am now not purchasing produce that comes from California because of possible effects of Fukushima. This only seals it. Governor Brown has the authority to ban fracking by executive order but chooses not to even in the face of this drought. He is just as responsible as Governor Rick Perry was in Texas for the results of his allegiance to the oil and gas industry over the health and safety of the residents of California.
A buoy warning 'no boats' stands on dirt at the abandoned Echo Bay Marina on July 13, 2014, in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Dry as a Bone: Lake Mead's H2O Situation Just Got a Whole Lot Worse
By Liz Dwyer
The days of millions of Sin City residents and visitors who love swimming in, boating on, and drinking water siphoned from Lake Mead could be numbered. After 14 years of drought in the Southwest, the water reservoir created by the Hoover Dam has officially dipped to its lowest water level since it began filling up with water from the Colorado River in the 1930s.
On Sunday, the lake’s water level dropped to 1,081.7 feet above sea level, leaving the reservoir only 39 percent full. The body of water hasn’t been full since 1998, when it was about 1,296 feet above sea level. As the hot, dry summer months continue, the water level is expected to recede even more.
"It's time for us to wake up. If this drought continues, we're going to be in a terrible situation within the next 12–24 months," Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told The Desert Sun.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regional chief Terry Fulp said, however, that there's enough water to meet the needs of the 40 million people who call the region home, including folks who live in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.
As has been warned about many times this is what happens when you build cities in the desert with the nexus of climate change. Many continue to trivialize the effects of climate change on water by saying the same water that has always been here is still here... When you however, take into account that only 1% of the water on this planet is usable by humans (with population increasing) and all other species and that we are now fracking, damming and polluting it and causing more evaporation, shifting rainfall patterns leading to less rainfall in places that need it leading to less snowpack due to our addiction to fossil fuels you either have water that is unusable or less water in places you once had it (as well as much more which also kills agriculture) due to shifts in the hydrologic cycle.
I truly wonder at this point what has to happen to make people understand that we are not only altering the cycles of our Earth but making sure that what we have is POISON. Does that look like a species that LOVES THIS PLANET?
California drought: New water restrictions carry penalty of up to $500
SACRAMENTO -- As California on Tuesday imposed its first-ever statewide rules to punish water wasters, a new survey showed why state officials say the drastic measures are needed: Californians actually increased their water use amid the worst drought in decades.
The new rules, approved by the State Water Resources Control Board on a 4-0 vote, impose new restrictions on outdoor water use starting Aug. 1 that could result in fines of up to $500 per violation.
Gov. Jerry Brown in January asked Californians to slash their water use by 20 percent. But a new state survey released Tuesday showed that water use in May rose by 1 percent this year, compared with a 2011-2013 May average.
The survey of 267 water providers by the water board found that water consumption in the Bay Area dropped 5 percent. But in coastal California, south of Santa Barbara, consumption rose 8 percent.
"California is in the worst drought we've seen in our grandparents' generation or beyond," said Felicia Marcus, the water board's chairwoman. "Fields are going fallow. Thousands of people are going to be out of work. There are communities that are out of water -- they're bathing out of buckets and water trucks are coming in to help them.
"But many parts of California don't seem to realize how bad it is," she said, "because they are so far away from their source of water. We are all in this together, and this is not a time to waste water."
The new rules ban washing cars without a nozzle on a hose; watering driveways or sidewalks; using potable water in ornamental fountains; and over-watering landscaping so that water runs off into roads and adjacent properties. Recycled water is exempt.
End of excerpt
While I agree everyone in California needs to conserve water I am curious as to why Nestle is being allowed to circumvent the law and am disappointed in those giving them the chance. If all who consume water in the state are not included I don't see how it is considered fair or will make a discernible difference. Oh but gee, you can't expect INDUSTRY to give a damn about that dirty "C" word... After all MONEY IS EVERYTHING...
Little oversight as Nestle taps Morongo reservation water
Even with the "big one" potentially on the horizon due to deeper digging and fracking which has already been linked to earthquakes? Just how much are you really willing to sacrifice for a few hours of electricity when you could also have it without all of these negative effects?
Water extraction boosts California quake risk: study
Southwest Turns Anxious Eye to Shrinking Lake Mead
California Drought: San Joaquin Valley Sinking As Farmers Race To Tap Aquifer
The Greatest Water Crisis In The History Of Civilization: Coming To The American West?
Lake Mead Is Drying Up
This entry from 2007. This is not new. This has been coming for years its warning falling on deaf ears.
Southwest Water Woes
As explained previously the jet stream due to climate change is also amplifying the effects of drought and wildfires throughout this entire area:
(Weak and wavy polar jet stream on July 17, 2014 shows fixed ridges over the Northwest Territory, Central and Eastern Siberia, Northern Europe and the adjacent North Atlantic and Arctic. Image source: Earth Nullschool. Data Source: NOAA GFS and various.)
This year, the warm air invasion started early. A high amplitude ridge in the Jet Stream stretching for thousands of miles over the temperate Pacific and on up into Alaska and the Chukchi Sea slowly drifted eastward. Reinforced by a powerful bank of blocking high pressure systems over the northeastern Pacific, this ridge settled over Canada’s Northwest Territory in a zone from the Mackenzie Delta and over a broad region east and south. From mid June onward, temperatures in the 70s, 80s and even low 90s dominated sections of this Arctic region.End of excerpt.
The heat built and built, drying the shallow soil zone over the thawing permafrost creating a tinder-dry bed layer waiting for the lightning strikes that were bound to follow in the abnormal Arctic heat.
By late June, major fire complexes had erupted over the region. Through early and mid July, these massive systems expanded even as the anomalous heat dome tightened its grip. Today, the fires in Northwestern Canada have reached a horrific intensity and one, the Birch Complex fire, alone has now consumed more than a quarter of a million acres.
According to reports from Canada’s Interagency Fire Center, total acres burned to date are more than six times that of a typical year. A rate of burning that, according to a recent scientific study, is unprecedented not just for this century, but for any period in Canada’s basement forest record over the last 10,000 years.
More at this link
Polar Jet Stream Wrecked By Climate Change Fuels Unprecedented Wildfires Over Canada and Siberia
California Drought Getting Worse- Linked to Global Warming
All of these variables put together proving that when we humans *&^%$ up we do it all the way...