If groundwater is contaminated, how will farmers water their crops?

Colorado’s agricultural industry relies heavily upon groundwater; approximately ninety-six percent (96%) of the ground water produced is consumed by agriculture. Colorado has over 3,200,00 acres of irrigated cropland.

Groundwater is used to supplement surface water for irrigation, and in large areas of the state it is the only source of water available. Groundwater is the primary source of irrigation water for the eastern high plains and the San Luis Valley, and it supplements surface water irrigation along major rivers and streams such as the South Platte River and Arkansas River.

Toxic emissions can damage forage and food crops

The health impacts of drilling go beyond the fracking chemicals, said Thomas Shelley, a chemical safety and hazardous materials specialist. The diesel and natural gas emissions from trucks, compressors, pumps and other equipment contains a complex of benzenes, toluene, and xylene as well as other volatile organic compounds.

Drilling activity and traffic create high levels of dust, and methane from venting and flaring contributes to the air pollution. These chemicals may combine with nitrogen oxides to form ground level ozone.

The EPA recently proposed lowering the allowable level of nitrogen oxides and ground level ozone to protect human health, Shelley said. But ozone can also damage forage and food crops, decreasing yields in alfalfa, grapes, pumpkins and leafy vegetables.

"-Studies should include all the ways people can be exposed, such as through air, water, soil, plants and animals. In addition to groundwater, exposure pathways could include the air at well sites, impoundment sites, and compressor stations both locally and regionally; livestock on farmed lands consuming potentially impacted surface waters; and recreational fish from potentially impacted surface waters."

--Dr. Christopher Portier, head of the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, January 2012

How gas drilling contaminates your food

What fracking might do to the food eaten by people living hundreds of miles from the nearest gas well -- has received little attention.

Profit-hungry energy companies -- and the politicians that their campaign donations support -- are determined to exploit that resource, even though it could destroy the livelihoods of thousands of small farmers.

O zone is more lethal to crops than all other airborne pollutants combined, and of all crops, few are more susceptible to it than clover, a nutrient-rich feed that is critical to his method of sustainable cattle raising.

While ozone is normally associated with automobile exhaust, fracking generates so much of it that Sublette Country, Wyo., has ozone levels as high as those in Los Angeles. This, despite the fact that it has fewer than 9,000 residents spread out over an area the size of Connecticut. What it does have is gas wells.

A 2012 study conducted by Robert E. Oswald, a biochemist and Professor of Molecular Medicine at Cornell University, and Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian with a maste r' s degree in pharmacology documented cases where food-producing animals exposed to chemical contaminants have not been tested before slaughter and where farms in areas testing positive for air and/or water contamination are still producing dairy and meat products for human consumption without testing of the animals or the products. Some of these chemicals could appear in milk and meat products made from these animals.

"If the air is fouled and the animals are drinking water that contains poisonous fracking chemicals, then products from those animals are going to have poisons . We would have to stop buying from them. There is no doubt in my mind , " said the m anager of Brooklyn's Park Slope Food Coop.

Park Slope Food Coop is a retail food cooperative owned by 15,800 members who purchase s millions of dollars of New York State produced agricultural products annually. H is environmentally conscious organization would be forced to seek alternatives to New York meat and produce if fracking becomes commonplace.

They guarantee that their members will not want the fruits and veggies that come from farms in an industrial area, regardless of whether the grass fed cows were drinking contaminated water and breathing air fouled by numerous enormous trucks that will support the hydrofracking process and the process itself.

"As a chef, I take strong responsibility for the food I serve to the patrons of the restaurant. While they are in our dining room, their health is in our hands. It is a terrible thought, but we've thought long and hard about farms on fracked land and our stance on it. As we can't judge someone for making that choice for their land and their business especially during these difficult times for family farms, the unregulated use of toxins in enormous amounts, as hydrofracturing does, leaves us little choice but to look elsewhere to bring our business. At Print, we take the support of all farms and the causes of farms and farmers very seriously. It's been part of our business model since the concept was in its inception. That being said, we feel that fracked land is compromised land. Compromised farm land is compromising the health of those around us, the health of our community, our children and ourselves."

-- Chef Heather Carlucci, Print Restaurant, NYC

Still births, sterile livestock

In Garfield County, animals that had produced offspring like clockwork each spring stopped delivering healthy calves, according to Liz Chandler, a veterinarian in Rifle, CO.

A bull went sterile, and a herd of beef cows stopped going into heat, as did pigs. In the most striking case, sheep bred on an organic dairy farm had a rash of inexplicable still births -- all in close proximity to drilling waste pits, where wastewater that includes fracturing fluids is misted into the air for evaporation.

Many instances of cattle, horses and pets dying or having reproductive problems after drinking from streams contaminated by fracking wastewater are in the 2012 Cornell researchers year-long study of farm animals. It's based primarily on interviews with animal owners and veterinarians in six states , including Colorado .

Seventeen cows died after drinking unreported spill of fracking fluids that washed into their pasture

April 28, 2009, 17 cows died in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, after apparently drinking fluid that had spilled from a nearby natural gas wellpad.

Citizens noticed the dying cows in a pasture owned by Cecil and Tyler Williams on state Highway 169 near the corner of Keatchie-Marshall Road in south Caddo Parish. Witnesses reported hearing them bellowing and seeing them bleeding before they fell over dead.

At the time, Schlumberger, as a contractor of Chesapeake, was performing routine fracturing of the natural gas well. LDEQ determined during its investigation that fluid leaked from the well pad then ran into an adjacent pasture after a rain.

Less than one percent of the fluid that leaked consisted of additives to the water. Yet it appears that the fluid was toxic enough to kill cows almost immediately upon drinking. Chesapeake stated that it did not report the spill because it was not a reportable quantity of fluid.

In March 2010, Chesapeake Energy Corp. and its contractor Schlumberger Technology Corp. each must pay $22,000 for violating state law in connection with the deaths of the 17 cows.


Colorado Groundwater Conditions coloradogroundwaterconditions.pdf

Why Fracking and Farming Don't Mix

Chefs for the Marcellus

Health Impacts of Gas Drilling Examined

Shale gas drilling and public health: From CDC's National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Drill for Natural Gas, Pollute Water

How gas drilling contaminates your food

Park Slope Food Co-op Concerned about Hydrofracking

Print Restaurant, NYC, statement from Chef Heather Carlucci


How toxic are hydraulic fracturing fluids? Ask Louisiana.

Chesapeake, Schlumberger fined $22,000 each in cows' deaths

Cornell Study Links Fracking Wastewater with Mortality in Farm Animals


Fracking basics
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What goes wrong


faulty cementing
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