The global water crisis is terrible. People in third world countries are left without clean drinking water and resort to drinking water that will make them sick or even kill them and even then, that contaminated water isn’t easy to get. But what about when it happens in our own country? What about when it’s something we caused? And what about when government officials don’t take the proper steps to fix the situation?
Unfortunately that is what’s happening in Allentown, Pennsylvania where the local water source has been contaminated by a natural gas drilling operation. At first, it looked like they would be taken care of as The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promised to truck in potable water for the city’s residents. Only 24 hours after making that promise, they quickly changed their position and said a tanker wouldn’t be coming after all.
Michael Rubinkamof the Associated Press wrote about the situation:
Eleven families who sued Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. expected water from the EPA to arrive either Friday or Saturday. They say they have been without a reliable source of water since Cabot won permission from state environmental regulators to halt deliveries more than a month ago.
Cabot, which was banned in 2010 from drilling in a 9-square-mile area around the village, took legal responsibility for the Dimock methane contamination, but contends water wells in the area were already tainted with methane long before the company arrived. The company also says it met a state deadline to restore or replace Dimock’s water supply, installing treatment systems in some houses that have removed the methane.
But homeowners say their wells are tainted with methane gas and toxic chemicals that are used in hydraulic fracturing, a technique in which water, sand and chemicals are blasted deep underground to free natural gas from dense rock deposits.
Dimock resident Craig Sautner said an EPA staffer in Philadelphia told him Saturday the water delivery was canceled. He said the EPA staffer, on-scene coordinator Rich Fetzer, would not explain why.
“You can’t be playing with people’s lives like this,” said Sautner, whose well was polluted in September 2008, shortly after Cabot began drilling in the area.
Sautner and the other homeowners had been relying on deliveries of bulk water paid for by anti-drilling groups, but the last delivery was Monday, and some of them ran out.
After the EPA delivery fell through Saturday, the environmental group Water Defense, founded by actor Mark Ruffalo, said it would send a tanker from Washingtonville, N.Y., on Sunday to replenish the residents’ supply.