Lecture on fracking and water
Hydraulic fracturing – pumping water and chemicals deep underground to bring oil and natural gas to the surface – is one of the most controversial environmental issues in the U.S. today.Join us Thursday, Jan. 30, for a stimulating lecture on this important environmental topic.
The lecture — ‘Fracking: What We Know and Don’t Know About its Impacts on Water’ — will be presented by Dr. Robert Jackson, an environmental scientist at Duke University. Jackson and Duke colleagues published the first peer-reviewed scientific papers on fracking and drinking water quality.
So far, that research in Pennsylvania has not found the direct pollution of water wells by drilling fluids and brackish waste water that fracking’s critics fear. The research has, however, found significant evidence of natural gas contamination in water wells near gas wells.
The lecture will be at 7 p.m. in the Student Center of the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. It is part of a speaker series sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the university’s College of Biological Sciences. Register to attend. Learn more about the speaker series and view video of previous lectures.
Is there a lecturer you would like to hear, or a subject you would like addressed? Send us your suggestions.
Freshwater report examines
Are Minnesotans over-using groundwater in ways that could leave us short of water – for human uses and for the environment – in the future? The short answer to that question is: Yes, in some places across the state.
A Freshwater Society report issued in April 2013 estimated that total reported groundwater pumping increased by about 2.8 billion gallons per year from 1988 through 2011. That adds up to a 31 percent increase over that period. By comparison, the state’s population increased 24 percent in the same period.
Agricultural irrigation, the second-biggest use of groundwater and the fastest-growing use by far, increased an estimated 73 percent during those years. Pumping by city water systems, the biggest single use, increased an estimated 33 percent.
The Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Metropolitan Council’s top water planner warn that current pumping levels are unsustainable, or close to becoming unsustainable, in some areas. The shrinkage of White Bear Lake over the last decade is a graphic illustration of that unsustainability.
The 24-page Freshwater report outlined shortcomings in the DNR’s enforcement of laws requiring well owners to get state permits for high-capacity pumping. DNR supervisors told the Freshwater Society they believed 10 percent of irrigation wells may not have required permits. A Freshwater Society comparison of two state data bases suggests the percentage could be significantly higher. Read more about the report and what people said about it.
Take our water quiz
Are you a groundwater expert? Do you know all there is to know about wetlands, lakes and rivers? Are you up on pollution and invasive species?
And do you know your beer jingles?
Step right up, and see how good you really are. Take our water quiz.
Master Water Stewards
View a new video on the Master Water Stewards program, a partnership of Freshwater and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. Read a Star Tribune article about the program. Learn more about the program, including how you can volunteer to join it.
Woods is Freshwater leader
Steve Woods, an assistant director of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, has succeeded Gene Merriam as the Freshwater Society’s top leader.
Woods, a civil engineer with extensive experience in water conservation and pollution prevention, became Freshwater’s executive director on Dec. 2, 2013. Learn more about Woods by reading a Dec. 4, 2013, Star Tribune interview with him. Read a Freshwater q-and-a interview that will tell you a little about his personality, hobbies and what he’s been reading.
“We are thrilled to have Steve joining our organization,” said Stu Grubb, the Freshwater board chair. “After an extensive search process, we found the right person.
“Steve’s leadership and experience in water resource policy, management, and engineering will be vital to continuing and improving the programs and activities of the Freshwater Society.”
Woods will assume Merriam’s role in executing Freshwater policy on key water issues, especially those dealing with groundwater sustainability and the pollution of lakes and streams by runoff from farm fields and city streets.
He will be the Society’s point person in relations with state and local policy-makers and with other environmental organizations. He also will assume some of the duties of Joan Nephew, Freshwater’s current executive director who will begin a phased retirement in 2014. Read more.
Read our November newsletter
Check out our November Facets electronic newsletter. There are profiles of recent graduates of the Master Water Steward program; an article on Steve Woods, Freshwater’s new executive director; and short articles on our last lecture on science and public policy and our next lecture hydraulic fracturing. There also is a link to tips from John Tuma, a former state legislator who now works as a lobbyist for Conservation Minnesota, on how citizens can effectively work for policy changes in the Legislature.
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