What’s missing from the FRAC Act

Anne Marie Garti writes:

The FRAC Act would remove the hydrofracking exemption to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), but the proposed bill will not protect most of the land area of the US because many aquifers, especially in the northeast, do not flow into a PUBLIC water supply of 25 + users, and whether they would be capable of supplying municipal water in the future is open to interpretation.  The required flow rate is not defined anyplace, and needs to be so that there is a uniform standard across the US.

Specifically, the Underground Injection Control (UIC) section of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) needs to include a definition, or standard, of  the following phrase:  “sufficient quantity of ground water to supply a public water system”

“Sufficient” needs to be defined in the FRAC Act so that the flow rate of individual homeowner’s water well or spring is covered.  It should be a federal standard, not open to different interpretations by Courts in every region of the EPA.  The Atlanta or Georgia region of EPA uses a 1 gallon per minute flow rate.

Some people have suggested that one gallon per minute may be a sufficient flow rate for water wells, but I’m not sure if that’s true for springs.  As water resources diminish as a result of climate change, a much lower standard might be reasonable.  Even a trickle of clean water could keep you alive in the future, and those trickles, when combined, add up to rivers in some places.

I am not proposing that the entire SDWA be amended to include the springs and wells of homeowners.  The required change in language should only apply to the UIC section of the SDWA.

Some background information from the EPA:

“The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was originally passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply. The law was amended in 1986 and 1996 and requires many actions to protect drinking water and its sources: rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells. (SDWA does not regulate private wells which serve fewer than 25 individuals.) ”

The UIC (Underground Injection Control) program includes 5 classes of protection:

Here’s more specific information:

And this is the specific area that needs adjusting:

Quote from the EPA:

What is a USDW?

An underground source of drinking water (USDW) is an aquifer or a part of an aquifer that is currently used as a drinking water source or may be needed as a drinking water source in the future.  Specifically, a USDW:

  • Supplies any public water system, or
  • Contains a sufficient quantity of ground water to supply a public water system, and
    • currently supplies drinking water for human consumption, or
    • contains fewer than 10,000 mg/l total dissolved solids (TDS), and
    • is not an exempted aquifer