Three Risks to Drinking Water that Four Risks to Drinking Water that cancan Occur on the Surface Occur below the Ground SurfaceDepletion of water sources Well construction, cementing, and casingLarge volumes of water are required for fracking operations. An oil or gas well is constructed using layers of steel pipe,Fresh water is taken from local surface or subsurface called casing, that are cemented, completely or partially, intowater bodies. In some areas, this may conflict directly with the surrounding rock and to each other. Casing and cementirrigation, drinking water, or aquatic ecosystem needs. isolate gas, oil, and fluids in the rock from groundwaterBecause water can be contaminated when it has been used resources. Improperly constructed and/or maintained oil orfor fracking, it cannot be returned to these water bodies gas wells can act as migration pathways for oil, gas, formationwithout extensive treatment. Permanent loss of water from water, drilling fluid, or fracking fluid to contaminatethese fresh water sources can potentially have an adverse groundwater.8impact on water quality and availability, and aquatic speciesand habitat.2 Out-of-zone growth When performing a frack job, out-of-zone fracture growthSpills and leaks of fracking chemicals and fluids can occur, in which the fractures extend further thanFluids, potentially hazardous chemicals and proppant used intended. The fracture can grow into other geologicin the fracking process are stored on the surface in tanks or formations9 including groundwater aquifers, dependingpits. If not stored properly, they can leak or spill. Fluids can on how much separation there is between the producingbe stored at a centralized facility near multiple wellpads formation and the aquifer.and then be transported to the well location by trucks or bypipeline. This transit period is another opportunity for leaks Neighboring oil and gas wellsand spills. Fracking fluid can also spill during the fracking An oil or gas well that was improperly constructed or pluggedprocess. Leaks on the surface from tanks, valves, pipes, etc. can provide a migration pathway for frack fluid or otheras a result of mechanical failure or operator error at any point contaminants to reach groundwater. This can happen if theduring these processes have the potential to contaminate fractures emanating from one oil or gas well intersect withgroundwater and surface water.3 either: (a) a nearby improperly plugged or constructed oil or gas well; or (b) fractures emanating from a nearby improperlyMismanagement of fracking waste plugged or constructed wellbore.After fracking, some of the fracking fluid, often referred to asflowback, returns up the wellbore to the surface. In addition, Natural fracture networksnaturally-occurring fluid is brought to the surface along with Some geologic formations are extensively naturally faultedthe produced oil or gas (referred to as “produced water.”) This and fractured. In such formations, induced fractures may linkwaste, consisting of both flowback and produced water, can up to these natural fracture networks. Over years or decades,be toxic, and the oil and gas industry generates hundreds of natural fractures and faults may provide migration pathwaysbillions of gallons of it each year.4 In addition to the chemicals for gas and fluids to groundwater.10 Fractures and faultsthat were initially injected, flowback and produced water may may also cause complications in well drilling, construction,also contain hydrocarbons, heavy metals, salts,5 and naturally and completion. This can result in well integrity problems,11occurring radioactive material (NORM). The wastewater is which can also lead to water contamination.sometimes stored in surface pits. If the pits are inadequatelyregulated6 or constructed, they run the risk of leaking oroverflowing and can pollute groundwater and surface water.7The waste may also be disposed of on the surface, reusedin another well, re-injected underground, or transported toa treatment facility. Each of these activities carries its owninherent risks, including spills, leaks, earthquakes (in the caseof underground injection) and threats to groundwater andsurface water.