Here in the Delaware River Basin, thanks to thousands of activists mobilizing, educating and successfully pressuring the Delaware River Basin Commissioners, our entire watershed is frack-free; we won a fracking moratorium last November. But our neighbors in the Susquehanna River watershed have no such protection.
On March 15, despite intense protest, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) unanimously voted to approve water withdrawals from the Susquehanna River, allowing companies to take billions of gallons for hydraulic fracturing. High-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, injects chemical-laced water underground at high pressure – a process with a confirmed, under-reported and under-investigated casing failure rate of 6.2 percent in Pennsylvania (based on information from the Department of Environmental Protection). More than 40 organizations signed a statement demanding an immediate halt on new water withdrawal permits, but they were approved without any cumulative impact study in the river basin, and without a Health Impacts Assessment related to shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania. This water use is consumptive. The water is withdrawn permanently from the hydrological cycle and returns to the surface bearing toxic chemicals, heavy metals, radioactive materials and volatile organic chemicals, with no safe solutions for disposal.
At the same March 15 hearing, the SRBC gave Aqua America subsidiary Aqua PVR permission to build a water withdrawal facility on the Susquehanna River, on land that is currently the site of the Riverdale Mobile Home Village. Aqua plans to sell three million gallons/day of river water to fracking corporations, while 25 families at Riverdale face sudden eviction. When public announcement of the evictions drew a significant outcry, Bryn Mawr-based Aqua America moved its eviction deadline back to June 1, offering $2,500 if residents comply. However, that amount does not come close to covering the market cost of moving a mobile home or the cost to these families of starting their lives over. If carried out, the evictions would rip apart a caring, intact, multi-generational community of low-income families which look after each other's children and care for each other's concerns. As Riverdale resident Kevin June put it, “You can't just destroy people’s lives like this.” Join us in demanding justice for the Riverdale families and an end to fracking in the Susquehanna River watershed by sending an e-letter to Aqua. For more information (including news about the April 19 press conference and vigil at Aqua's headquarters in Bryn Mawr) visit protectingourwaters.com.
Protecting Our Waters is a Philadelphia-based grassroots alliance committed to protecting the Delaware River Basin, the state of Pennsylvania, and our region from unconventional gas drilling and other threats to our drinking water, environment, and public health.