Rob Schwartz FB comment:
Does anybody wonder if the recently rescinded water rights in the Milk River area has anything to do with industry plans to do a frac blitz on that same area ?
2014 03 19: Alberta Health Services tells residents within 5 km of South Rosevear Gas Plant not to use water from their wells because of “possible” solvent contamination; Says nothing to residents living in danger from known explosive levels of methane contaminating well water and homes!
2014 04 15: Sulfolane (used to sweeten sour gas) leak at Bonavita Energy’s South Rosevear Gas Plant, Edson Alberta, contaminated drinking water, severe health harm experienced by Mersadese Royale, her husband and children; Family evicted after raising concerns publicly
2014 09 13: Heavily frac’d Hudson’s Hope, BC, issues water advisory: “A resident…observed a substance surfacing into the Brenot Creek.” Do not “use the water from Lynx Creek and Brenot Creek” for drinking water, livestock watering, irrigation … “At this time we cannot comment on the water quality of water wells that are within the proximity of the contaminated site.”
2014 12 04: Parkland, Leduc and Sturgeon residents urged not to drink well water (with video), Alberta Health Services is advising about 6,000 Parkland, Leduc and Sturgeon County residents with private wells to avoid drinking their water, after higher than recommended levels of naturally occurring arsenic and manganese were detected by Edmonton Journal
Alberta Health Services is advising about 6,000 Parkland, Leduc and Sturgeon County residents with private wells to avoid drinking their water, after higher than recommended levels of naturally occurring [but also toxic chemicals released into groundwater by the oil and gas industry] arsenic and manganese were detected.
The levels detected don’t present an immediate risk to health, AHS said, but are above acceptable guidelines for drinking water in Canada. [Which are mighty lame, intentionally so to protect corporate polluters.]
All private well owners and users are urged to submit a sample from their well for free private testing for these trace elements. The advisory does not affect regional and municipal users of water services such as Epcor.
“The levels that we are seeing are … slightly higher than what Canadian drinking water guideline levels are, but we don’t have an immediate cause for concern,” AHS Edmonton zone medical health officer Dr. Christopher Sikora said. “But it’s best to protect your own health, so it’s better to have your water tested.”
Free trace element testing can be done through the AHS Environmental Public Health offices.
An email will be sent to households in the affected areas to remind residents to have their well water tested.
AHS discovered the elevated levels after routine monitoring, Sikora said. [What were the baseline levels? Why no reporting on that vital information? How much frac’ing and oil patch waste dumping in the area?]
He said AHS is most concerned with the arsenic levels.
[!!! Why is AHS not also concerned with the manganese levels?
The symptoms of manganese toxicity may appear slowly over
months and years. Manganese toxicity can result in a permanent neurological disorder known as manganism with symptoms that include tremors, difficulty walking, and facial muscle spasms. These symptoms are often preceded by other lesser symptoms, including irritability, aggressiveness, and hallucinations. Some studies suggest that manganese inhalation can also result in adverse cognitive effects, including difficulty with concentration and memory problems. …
The acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water is 0.01 mg/L, but Sikora said AHS found levels at 0.02 mg/ The acceptable level of manganese in drinking water is 0.05 mg/L, Sikora said, and testing found levels to be about 50 times that number.
Sikora said affected well water could be greyish in colour and have a noticeable odour and taste.
Because these elements occur naturally, Sikora said he doesn’t expect these levels to drop off in existing wells. [!!!!!]
“As long as individuals have that well in operation, they would have elevated levels.” [!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]
[Oil patch vs nature reality check (there are many more cases of groundwater contaminated with arsenic by the oil and gas industry, manganese was focused on below because of Alberta Health so negligently and callously misleading the public and affected water well owners about it):
2005 07 25: British Columbia’s 2005 Lax Code for Discharging Coalbed Methane Pollution into Rocky Mountain Headwaters Co-Authored by Encana, Company Resumes 5 year old Elkford CBM Project as Weak Provincial ‘Code of Practice’ Comes into Effect Permitting Discharge of Contaminated Wastewater into Classified Trout Streams
(3) A discharger must ensure that a discharge of produced water into a perennial stream is treated, if necessary, to remove iron and manganese precipitates so that discoloration in the perennial stream is minimized.
Steiner, 67, is one of the five homeowners on Head Drive who were forced to leave their homes for 40 days in late 2007. Potentially explosive levels of methane were detected in and around their southwestern Millcreek Township homes in November. The residents were evacuated until a nearby church capped one of its new gas wells, and the methane dissipated around Christmas. More than six months later, the air is safe on Head Drive. But the water isn’t. “I won’t drink the water,” said Steiner…. “I buy bottled water.”
State officials have tested Steiner’s water and told him in a letter that it contained amounts of iron, manganese and other contaminants above the standards for safe drinking water. It also had enough natural gas to pose “a physical danger of fire or explosion,” the letter stated. …
The letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection attributed the contaminated water to gas drilling…. Iron and manganese migrated to their well water because drillers use compressed air to force drill cuttings back to the surface, Kucsma said. “Some of the rock below the surface is porous, and air infiltrated the rock and caused the iron there to become soluble,” Kucsma said. “The iron and other contaminants migrated into the wells.” The DEP ordered First Alliance to provide safe drinking water to the residents….
Schreiner Oil and Gas Co. has responded to and complied with a Feb. 23 order issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection, proposing a comprehensive permanent solution to water issues afflicting two homes as a result of the company’s drilling activity near Hedgehog Lane. … The DEP previously determined the Ohio-based company was liable for negatively affecting the water supplies of nine Hedgehog Lane residences and had not rectified the situation in two of those homes completely.
… “Both of the homes will be getting reverse osmosis systems which will remove total dissolved solids, chlorides, manganese, iron, dissolved methane and ethane gas from their water supplies,” Tarbell said. … As an indication of the severity of the situation for the homes whose water had been contaminated, water coming out of the faucets at the Bailey residence prior to the initial partial rectification was able to be lit on fire due the levels of flammable gas mixed in.
A Houston company drilling for gas in Susquehanna County disputes that it contaminated drinking water for 13 families in Lenox Twp. On Tuesday, the families filed a lawsuit that said Southwestern Energy Production Co. leaked hazardous chemicals into their water, made them sick and damaged their property while drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
… Tests by state regulators in 2008 found elevated levels of barium, strontium and manganese in the families’ wells. … An attorney for the plaintiffs has said there is “no question” the drilling was to blame. … The lawsuit also claims an infant in one of the families has neurological symptoms consistent with heavy metal poisoning. It asks for an injunction and monetary damages.
….the suit alleges the fracking fluid contains “hazardous chemicals [that] are carcinogenic and toxic.” Also, in any drilling operation other hazardous materials such as diesel fuel and lubricating materials are used. It is these, and other pollutants, the Hagys allege that Equitable, Warren, BJ Services and Halliburton discharged into the ground that eventually contaminated their water supply. As a result of drinking the contaminated water, the Hagys allege both they, and their sons, Clark and Dustin, have manifested neurological symptoms consistent with exposure to heavy metals including manganese.
In late April 2010, drilling waste water from a large storage pond leaked through its plastic liner and flowed onto a cow pasture in Shippen Township, Tioga County. Farmers Don and Carol Johnson found the leak, along with the hoof prints of 28 beef cattle who had wandered through and possibly drank the contaminated water. The waste water came from a well that had been fracked on their property by East Resources. When tested, the water contained chloride, iron, sulfate, barium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, strontium and calcium. The spill killed all vegetation in an area 30 feet by 40 feet. [Emphasis added]
Among chemicals detected in the well water, in addition to methane gas, were ammonia, arsenic, chloromethane, iron, manganese, t-butyl alcohol, and toluene…. “lives have been severely disrupted and their health has been severely impacted. To unceremoniously ‘close the book’ on investigations into their troubles when so many indicators point to the culpability of the gas industry for the disruption of their lives is unconscionable.”
“More than half of the water well samples had elevated levels of methane and some had iron, manganese, arsenic, and lead at levels higher than the Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) set by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP),” the report stated.
The majority of water samples show elevated sulfate, elevated iron and often elevated manganese in Woodlands water. Those elements are often associated with legacy mining operations or mine drainage. Many samples show elevated chlorides, bromides and fluorides, he said, which could signal brine contamination associated with shale or coalbed methane operations. “We’re finding a multitude of problems, but the common theme is essentially the water table for the community has changed,”
The Hagys didn’t put “two plus two together” until their youngest son went to his family doctor in Columbus, Ohio in October 2008. Their son had complained of nausea and was spitting up blood. His doctor treated him for acid reflux, a disorder he’d never experienced before, and suggested he stop drinking his parent’s well water. The son’s symptoms disappeared soon after he discontinued drinking his parent’s well water. Tamera Hagy developed a rash that her primary care physician diagnosed as contact dermatitis, a skin inflammation caused by a foreign source. Expert medical testimony in court documents reveal the Hagys’ health symptoms mirrored chemical exposure. … Based on their complaints, Equitable re-tested the Hagy water well on November 8, 2008 and their water had clearly changed. The turbidity, or murkiness, was 6 times greater post drilling (0.5 to 3.2) and iron, manganese and calcium levels increased significantly (Dusty replaced one hot water heater during this time due to calcium build-up.)
Water tests conducted later also revealed arsenic, lead, barium and Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, an organic compound linked to fracking wastewater.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office, which on Sept. 10 announced charges against a subsidiary of the oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. for a spill that occurred here in 2010. Three years ago, the site contained about 50 steel storage tanks, parked side by side, including some that held toxic drilling wastewater to be treated and recycled. The state says that more than 50,000 gallons — about 10 tractor-trailer loads — leaked through an open valve, flowed through a ditch, and polluted an unnamed creek. Exxon Mobil’s subsidiary, XTO Energy Inc., is mounting a fierce legal and public-relations defense, saying the criminal charges are “unprecedented, baseless and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”
… The grand jury’s presentment does not say who opened the valves on the tank or why. … But it noted that the drilling site had no secondary containment, little security, and no alarm system for leaks. Shale-gas wells produce huge quantities of wastewater after they are hydraulically fractured…. The wastewater contains fracking chemicals and pollutants from the shale formation itself, including barium, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, strontium, bromide, and chloride.
DEP officials explained it differently. They had not pinpointed a source for the problems affecting three homes near the well, including the Ely properties. But they had determined that the suspect Costello gas well was “unviable” and would have to be plugged. In an email response to my query earlier this fall, DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly reported that Cabot was ”continuing remedial efforts” at the Costello gas well and “evaluating the effectiveness” of the work. Methane levels were fluctuating, she said. Additionally, tests had shown levels of iron and manganese that were elevated but within standards in some water samples. Elevated levels of these elements are “not uncommon during gas migration,” she reported.
By 2010, there were two gas wells about half a mile from the Leightons’ residence and water supply well that violated industry standards, the couple claimed. They said the Chesapeake and its affiliates then had to conduct “remedial perforations and cement squeeze operations” on one of the wells in November 2011, “allowing contaminants … to escape from the well bore for as many as seven days” in May 2012.
Though the driller’s samples showed the Leightons’ water was of good quality in May 2011, stats allegedly changed after the hydrofracking occurred. The Leightons said the state Environmental Protection Department and Chesapeake Appalachia took samples in May 2012 showing substantial increases in the levels of methane, ethane, propane, iron and manganese in the Leightons’ groundwater.
A similar lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Fred and Janet McIntyre and their daughter, Savannah, 11, of Connoquenessing Township, Pa. The Allegheny County Common Pleas Court suit charges that the family’s water supply was contaminated by fracking fluids that seeped out of wells operated by Rex Energy Corp. of State College, Pa. …
However, Fred and Janet were among several Woodlands residents featured in a YouTube video on the situation. In it, Fred talks about contracting a serious skin rash and nose bleeds while Janet attributes her leukemia to the fouled water. The video also shows residents drawing black, orange and foaming water from faucets. Residents said until the wells went in, their water quality was good.
The lawsuit charges that 31 wells around the Woodlands perimeter are a nuisance. The wells nearest the McIntyres’ small home are blamed for polluting their well and causing Fred and Janet to experience symptoms that are consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals. The suit seeks reimbursement for expenses the McIntyres have incurred, including buying clean water, and an injunction to end the “nuisances, wrongful acts and damages” by closing down Rex Energy’s wells. The lawsuit included several Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection inspection reports listing operating violations including improper casing of at least two wells.
Rex Energy did not respond to calls for comment.
John Stolz, professor of environmental microbiology at Spiritan-run Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, undertook a study of Woodlands water sources in 2011. He said he found more than 50 families that had water quality problems. The tests found manganese as the primary contaminant.
2014 09 17: WPX Energy Leaking Frac Waste Pit Contaminates Three Families’ Well Water, Company Fighting Regulator Order to Provide Permanent Safe Water for Bathing; if you shower in contaminated water, “you end up breathing water droplets and any contamination in the water enters your lungs”
In September 2012, the Browns’ water was found to be contaminated with various pollutants, including manganese and sodium, according to a lawsuit the couple filed in September 2013 against WPX and its subcontractors.
While humans need small amounts of manganese and sodium daily, studies show exposure to high levels of manganese can cause damage to the central nervous system in adults and can lead to cognitive impairment in children, who are more sensitive to the element, according to reports prepared for the federal government.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has officially determined that drinking water at a third residence is contaminated by WPX Appalachia LLC’s leaky Marcellus Shale gas drilling wastewater impoundment near Stahlstown, Westmoreland County.
… The DEP last week ordered WPX to restore or replace the water supply at the home of Ken and Mildred Geary, both in their 80s, who first complained that their water had a foul, chemical smell and taste a year ago. The order came down two years after the DEP first received a complaint about possible ground water contamination from the impoundment at WPX’s Kelp shale gas drilling pad.
The DEP made the contamination determination based on tests done in June, that showed the well water contained higher concentrations of chloride, barium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, strontium and total dissolved solids than it did prior to November 2011 when WPX drilled the Kelp well.
Two companies have been charged over a huge 2013 spill from a coal tailings pond that fouled tributaries feeding the Athabasca River.
Coal Valley Resources Inc. and Sherritt International Corp. (TSX:S) face six charges under Alberta’s Environmental Protection Act, Public Lands Act and Water Act.
The charges follow a spill of about 670 million litres of waste water that gushed out of a broken earth berm at the Obed Mountain mine near Hinton on Oct. 31, 2013.
The Alberta Energy Regulator said at the time of the spill, Coal Valley operated the mine as a subsidiary of Sherritt.
The regulator said material in the spill included minerals, bits of coal and a substance used in coal production. Last year, an Environment Canada database said the spill contained damaging compounds such as arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and manganese.
In the weeks following the spill, the province advised downstream communities not to draw water from the river and farmers not to let livestock drink from it. Two tributaries of the Athabasca River were affected.
… “There’s lots of questions about whether there were issues prior to the spill,” she said. [Was it an intentional release? How much cheaper to break, dump and be criminally charged, than to deal with the tailings appropriately and legally?]
2015 12 09: Pa. Appeals Court rules Landowner Loren Kiskadden Can’t Revive Claim That Fracking by Range Resources Contaminated his Water Well, not even with proving that Range withheld radioactive frac tracer data during the legal proceedings
Kiskadden launched an appeal with the EHB in October 2011 after the DEP denied his request for an alternative water source to be installed on his property after a series of tests that showed elevated levels of iron, manganese and methane in his water supply.
According to EHB filings, Kiskadden’s water turned gray and started foaming after drilling operations at Range’s adjacent Yeager impoundment began.
The agency‘s report analyzed the same sampling data that EPA collected and evaluated in 2012, after residents approached the federal agencies with persistent concerns about the safety of their drinking water. The new analysis is conservative, the health agency said, and it assumes that residents are ingesting the maximum detected concentration of the chemicals found in the well water.
In 27 water wells, the agency found that levels of arsenic, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, lithium, manganese, potassium or sodium were high enough to affect the health of adults, children or people with existing health problems. A man-made chemical, 4-chlorophenyl-phenyl ether, was also detected in two water wells, but the agency said there is not enough information on its toxicology to determine if it can cause adverse health effects.
The researchers, from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other institutions, found that both distance and topography play a role. In lowland drinking wells within one kilometer (about six-tenths of a mile) of a drill site, they found higher levels of dissolved calcium, chlorine, sulfates and iron. In lowland wells more than a kilometer away, they found higher levels of methane, sodium and manganese compared with equally distant wells on higher ground. Upland wells within a kilometer of a drill site showed no specific trends.
2016 12 19: Excellent Article by Andrew Nikiforuk on Yet Another Study and the EPA’s Final Frac Report, Both Highlighting Fracking’s Harms to Groundwater. The Big Lie by industry, regulators, politicians unravels
The research by geochemists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory analyzed more than a thousand groundwater samples collected by industry and universities in northeastern Pennsylvania.
It found that both topography and distance from wells played a large factor in the chemical changes observed.
Groundwater in valley bottoms near fracked gas wells contained higher levels of chemicals such as chloride, calcium sulfates, and iron.
In lowland wells more than a kilometre from well sites, the researchers also found much higher levels of methane, sodium and manganese compared to equally distant wells on higher ground.
“Heavy metals are leaving this site and entering the watershed and that needs to be fixed,” she said. “The contaminated soil needs to be removed. This should never have happened to this community.”
The landfill’s 50-year permit requires all water from its settling pond and treatment facilities must meet provincial water quality guidelines.
But that hasn’t happened. Water reports posted on the environment ministry website show that levels of aluminum, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, vanadium and zinc exceeded either B.C. drinking water regulations or guidelines to safeguard aquatic life during some testing periods in October and November.
2017 03 31: Terrible News! Another jury award overturned on a frac harm lawsuit: Federal Judge overturns $4.24M unanimous jury award in methane contamination of Ely & Hubert drinking water after fracking by Cabot Oil and Gas Co. Orders new trial if settlement not reached.
In 2012, the Agency for Toxic Substance (ATSDR) began reviewing information about groundwater and sampling data from the Dimock area at the request of residents and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ATSDR then prepared a report with our findings. The report also has recommendations to protect the health and safety of Dimock residents.
ATSDR found that some chemicals found in private water wells at this site are a concern.
Levels in 27 private water wells were high enough to affect health.
Chemicals detected above health-based comparison levels include arsenic, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, lithium, manganese, potassium, and sodium.
4-chlorophenyl-phenyl ether was also detected in private water wells.
ATSDR concluded that for these and other private water wells, levels were high enough to make the water unsuitable for drinking.
2017 11 145: Documents show EPA health concerns on frac chemicals kept secret, approved for use by companies near families & communities anyways: Intentional Environmental Racism by Regulators? Against everyone living frac’d?
The state of Pennsylvania found that Chevron illegally dumped frack water on his property.
Since the bath that led to his son’s rash, Latkanich said the boy has been diagnosed with asthma and suffered incontinence, “defecating himself almost on a daily basis from just the use of this water, apparently.”
Latkanich himself has been diagnosed with neuropathy, a kind of nerve damage that causes him joint pain.
“My son came to me last week and he says, ‘Dad, you cry in your sleep,’” he said.
The family started buying bottled water to use for everything.
Latkanich has struggled to get answers to his medical problems. The state tested his water and declared it safe. Local hospital tests on Ryan found nothing wrong. But other tests by universities on the family’s water found high levels of bromide, chloride, manganese, uranium — all compounds associated with fracking chemicals.
You hear a lot of health complaints like these — and confusion about them — in communities near the oil and gas fields of America.
HOW MANY OIL INDUSTRY BLOW OUTS HAVE THERE BEEN IN THE “NATURALLY” CONTAMINATED AREA:
2018 02 02: FIFTY YEARS AFTER A BLOWOUT, THIS NATURAL-GAS RESERVOIR IS STILL CONTAMINATING THE LOCAL GROUNDWATER, A study of a blowout site in the Netherlands offers safety lessons for natural gas fields around the world
Elevated dissolved iron and manganese concentrations at the fringe of the methane plume show that oxidation is primarily mediated by the reduction of iron and manganese oxides. Combined, the data reveal the long-term impact that underground gas well blowouts may have on groundwater chemistry, as well as the important role of anaerobic oxidation in controlling the fate of dissolved methane.
End oil patch vs nature reality check]
“The levels that we’re seeing, we don’t have immediate cause for concern,” said Dr. Chris Sikora with AHS. [Is AHS trustworthy? Citizens at Rosebud impacted by Encana’s illegal aquifer frac’ing begged Alberta Health for help only to be shunned like lepers] “That being said, it’s best to protect your own health.”
Alberta Health Services wants residents in Leduc, Parkland and Sturgeon Countiesto get their private water wells tested after higher-than-acceptable levels of arsenic and manganese were found during routine monitoring.
Some private wells on properties south of Township Road 544 and north of Township Road 502, between Range Roads 39 and 250, have shown elevated levels of the two elements.
In some cases, arsenic levels were found to be twice as high as recommended provincial guidelines for drinking water – and manganese levels were up to 50 times the recommended level.
… The elevated levels were discovered during routine monitoring by Alberta Health Services.
Despite the alarming-sounding numbers, Dr. Chris Sikora with AHS says residents do not need to be scared. [!!!!!! Petrostate Health Care !!!!!!!!!!!!]
… Water would taste, look different
Sikora said both arsenic and manganese are naturally occurring elements. [Why avoid the critical fact that the oil and gas industry is a significant cause of increasing “naturally occurring” arsenic, mercury, barium, strontium, manganese in drinking water in Alberta?]
“This naturally-occurring arsenic … has been seen in numerous other watersheds and basins [across Alberta].”
Sikora said the heightened levels of arsenic and manganese would taste and look different from normal drinking water.
“The water is actually discoloured and will stain clothes if used in a washing machine, so I’m quite confident that people wouldn’t be using that water for consumption purposes.”
2015 05 19: Alberta Health Services Warning: Drinking water contamination in Kneehill County: Toxic Selenium and Uranium found in private water wells; Metals testing not mandatory before fracing, waste dumping and injection, not even when companies frac into drinking water aquifers
2015 07 21: Water Raping Frackers Remain Jail Free. Another Alberta drought-stricken county declares agricultural disaster; California drought regulators fine farmers with historical water rights $1.5 Million for taking water
2016 08 21: The Canadian Way: Taxpayers paying billions of dollars to remediate corporate profit-taking in N.W.T. that will be arsenic “contaminated indefinitely.” Water used for drinking by Yellowknife and around Giant Mine may never recover
2017 08 08: Alberta issues 40 water shortage advisories while continuing to let frackers inject hundreds of millions of gallons fresh water losing much of it from hydrogeological cycle forever. Worse, Notley Govt is subsidizing frac industry’s water abuses while making frac contaminated families live without safe water
There are more advisories on contaminated water and shortages, it would take days to list them all.
‘It’s not impossible’: Western Canada’s risk of water shortages rising, Communities where water has been plentiful are not immune to water crises as climate changes by Erin Collins, CBC News, Mar 14, 2018
Cape Town could become the first major city to run out of water
Three years of drought mean Cape Town could become the first major city in the world to run out of water. As the countdown to “Day Zero” continues in South Africa, Canadian scientists are warning that some communities here could face their own water crisis in the not-so-distant future.
Cape Town’s Day Zero, when the city says it will be forced to shut off the taps and ration water to its four million citizens, was initially expected to come in April. Water conservation efforts have now pushed the date to late August, but the day the taps run dry is still coming unless the region gets some serious precipitation.
The risk that changing weather patterns pose for water supplies is one reason Canadian researcher John Pomeroy is braving frigid winter temperatures to climb a metal observation tower in the shadow of Alberta’s Fortress Mountain.
Pomeroy and a team of researchers use equipment placed 2,000 metres above sea level in Alberta’s Rockies to measure the snowfall and the weather here. Precipitation patterns have been changing along with the general climate in this mountain range, he says.
“We have been getting rain events even in the winter.”
Pomeroy, the Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change, has been studying the snowpack in this area for nearly 15 years in an attempt to predict both floods and droughts before they happen.
He points out that the snow in the Rockies provides everything from drinking water to irrigation for tens of millions of people across North America.
“The water from this mountain range flow into the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific and the Atlantic, so what happens here matters for the whole continent.”
It is a stark reality that in a country known for its abundance of fresh water, climate scientists are seeing changes in the ways our water flows. And it’s a problem, in terms of providing people with water throughout the year.
Last year there was a record amount of snowfall in the Fortress Mountain region, but Pomeroy says he and his research team were surprised when all that snow wasn’t enough to prevent a drought on the southern part of the prairies.
Pomeroy says a warming climate means the mountain snowpack is melting faster and earlier. As a result, the water is moving through river basins more quickly than in the past and leaving them parched by the end of summer.
It’s a situation that, if prolonged, could lead to the kind of water shortages being seen in Cape Town and parts of California in recent years.
“That kind of extreme water shortage hasn’t happened here, but it’s not impossible that it can,” he says, noting that the shortages facing Cape Town today were once unimaginable.
Glaciers are also an important part of the equation, and receding ice sheets are affecting annual water cycles in the West.
In the past, melt from glaciers would have helped make up for shortages that arose during dry years on the prairies, getting the arid region through the dog days of summer.
But climate change means that this bank of extra water from glaciers has mostly been spent, and the balance is shrinking quickly.
Shawn Marshall, who studies glaciers at the University of Calgary’s geography department, says the giant glaciers of the past are quickly disappearing. “The estimates right now are that about 80 per cent of the ice will be gone by 2100.”
Marshall says that as the population grows and the climate continues to warm on Canada’s prairies, trouble is brewing. Water shortages are likely the next time a multi-year drought hits Western Canada.
And that’s something that may already be underway, according to Marshall.
“It might have started last year, actually. You know, we had the beginnings of a drought last year, and it’s just a question of if we get a few more summers in a row like that.”
It is a scenario that is far from hypothetical in the town of Milk River, Alta., which relies on the tributary of the same name for its irrigation and drinking water.
The headwaters of the Milk River, which provides water to about 1,600 people in the southern part of the province, are in Montana’s Glacier National Park.
But with the glaciers there mostly gone, the communities around the Milk River are particularly vulnerable to drought no matter how much snow and rain falls in the area.
In 2001, at the end of a particularly hot, dusty, summer, the Milk River actually ran dry. According to Tim Romanow, executive director of the Milk River Watershed Council Canada, it could happen again.
“Nobody is preparing for a three- to five-year drought,” something Romanow says is likely to happen sooner rather than later.
Just last year, farmers in the area were told to stop irrigating their crops after Aug. 3, a move that cost producers as much as $1 million.
Romanow worries that despite heavy snow in the area this winter, another dry summer could be on the way. He says the rest of Canada should pay attention, because climate change means traditional weather models no longer apply.
“We are the canary in the coal mine, because we already had very precarious water security.”
Back in the Rockies, Pomeroy brushes the snow off an instrument buried under half a metre of snow. Amidst all this snow, it’s hard to believe that this part of the world actually gets less annual precipitation than Cape Town.
Pomeroy says that fact makes it all the more important to start preparing for future water shortages in Canada.
“I think Cape Town is a terrible event for that city and for Africa, but it can be a wake-up call for the rest of the developed world that we can have severe water shortages.”
Pomeroy hopes Cape Town’s experience will push Canadians to do more to prepare for extreme drought, including reducing water use and building up storage capacity to better carry communities through dry years.
“We need to manage our water much more carefully and be ready for these droughts when they hit.”
Until then, Pomeroy and his team will keep watching and measuring the snow here, waiting for the inevitable — the day when no matter how much it snows, it won’t be enough.
In the original version of this story, it was incorrectly reported that Tim Romanow is the executive director of the Milk River Irrigation District. In fact, the organization is called the Milk River Watershed Council Canada.
South Africa declares drought a national disaster by The Associated Press, March 13, 2018, The Globe and Mail
South Africa has declared that the drought afflicting Cape Town and other parts of the country is a national disaster.
The government announcement on Tuesday allows officials to more easily direct resources to drought relief and long-term recovery plans.
The government says the drought is especially severe in the three Cape provinces in the south of the country.
Cape Town warned for months of the threat of “Day Zero,” the date when the city would have to close most water taps because of the drought. However, the opposition party running the city said last week that “Day Zero” might not happen at all this year because of water conservation efforts.
The opposition Democratic Alliance says the government’s declaration of a national disaster should make relief funds available for affected areas.
SOON HUMANS AND THEIR LIVESTOCK AND PETS WILL BE DRINKING PETROLEUM VIA PLASTICS, if they’re fortunate enough to be able to afford bottled “water.”
MARKETPLACE Microplastics found in 93% of bottled water tested in global study, Researchers examined 11 different brands of water purchased in 9 countries By David Common and Eric Szeto, CBC News, Mar 14, 2018
The bottled water industry is estimated to be worth nearly $200 billion a year, surpassing sugary sodas as the most popular beverage in many countries. But its perceived image of cleanliness and purity is being challenged by a global investigation that found the water tested is often contaminated with tiny particles of plastic.
The research was conducted on behalf of Orb Media, a U.S-based non-profit journalism organization with which CBC News has partnered.
Mason’s team tested 259 bottles of water purchased in nine countries (none were bought in Canada). Though many brands are sold internationally, the water source, manufacturing and bottling process for the same brand can differ by country.
The 11 brands tested include the world’s dominant players —
Nestle Pure Life,
San Pellegrino and
as well as major national brands across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Researchers found 93 per cent of all bottles tested contained some sort of microplastic, including polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
Microplastics are the result of the breakdown of all the plastic waste that makes its way into landfills and oceans. They are also manufactured intentionally, as microbeads used in skin care products. Microbeads are now being phased out in Canada, after significant numbers began to appear in the Great Lakes and the tiny particles were found filling the stomachs of fish.
Anything smaller than five millimetres in size (5,000 microns) is considered microplastic.
Orb found on average there were 10.4 particles of plastic per litre that were 100 microns (0.10 mm) or bigger. This is double the level of microplastics in the tap water tested from more than a dozen countries across five continents, examined in a 2017 study by Orb that looked at similar-sized plastics.
Other, smaller particles were also discovered — 314 of them per litre, on average — which some of the experts consulted about the Orb study believe are plastics but cannot definitively identify.
The amount of particles varied from bottle to bottle: while some contained one, others contained thousands.
The purpose of the study was to establish the presence of the plastics in bottled water.
It’s unclear what the effect of microplastics is on human health, and no previous work has established a maximum safe level of consumption. There are no rules or standards for allowable limits of microplastics in bottled water in Canada, the United States and Europe. Rules and standards for other countries from the study are not known.
Two brands — Nestle and Gerolsteiner — confirmed their own testing showed their water contained microplastics, albeit at much lower levels than what Orb Media is reporting.
Plastics are present nearly everywhere and can take hundreds of years to degrade, if at all. Many types only continue to break down into smaller and smaller particles, until they are not visible to the naked eye.
Plastics have also been known to act like a sponge, and can absorb and release chemicals that could be harmful if consumed by mammals and fish.
“It’s not straightforward,” said Prof. Max Liboiron of Memorial University in St John’s.
“If you’ve ever had chili or spaghetti and you put it in Tupperware, and you can’t scrub the orange colour out, that’s a manifestation of how plastics absorb oily chemicals,” says Liboiron, director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), which monitors plastic pollution.
The European Food Safety Authority suggests most microplastics will be excreted by the body. But the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has raised concerns about the possibility some particles could be small enough to pass into the bloodstream and organs.
It’s not clear how the plastic is getting into the bottled water — whether it’s the water source itself or the air or the manufacturing and bottling process.
“Even the simple act of opening the cap could cause plastic to be chipping off the cap,” Mason said.
The science behind the test
The water tested was purchased in the U.S., Kenya, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mexico and Thailand, and represented a range of brands across several continents. It was shipped to the specialized lab at SUNY in Fredonia, N.Y.
Scientists used Nile Red fluorescent tagging, an emerging method for the rapid identification of microplastics, as the dye binds to plastic. Scientists put the dyed water through a filter and then viewed samples under a microscope.
Mason’s team was able to identify specific plastics over 100 microns (0.10 mm) in size but not smaller particles. According to experts contacted by CBC News, there is a chance the Nile Red dye is adhering to another unknown substance other than plastic.
Mason leaves open that possibility but leans strongly to the smaller particles being plastic.
The developer of the Nile Red method agrees.
Fluorescing particles that were too small to be analyzed should be called “probable microplastic,” said Andrew Mayes, senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.
Orb consulted several toxicologists and microplastics experts throughout the entire process who also reviewed the findings.
“This is pretty substantial,” Mayes said. “I’ve looked in some detail at the finer points of the way the work was done, and I’m satisfied that it has been applied carefully and appropriately, in a way that I would have done it in my lab.”
CBC News also asked multiple experts to review Orb’s study; while similar questions came up with the Nile Red dye, they were convinced there was some level of microplastics in the water and further research was warranted.
Big brands respond
Nestle said in a response that it had tested six bottles of water from two of its brands — Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino — and found between two and 12 microplastics per litre, much lower than what Orb found in its study. The company suggested that Nile Red dye is known to “generate false positives.”
Gerolsteiner also said its tests showed a “significantly lower quantity of microplastics per litre” in its products.
“We still cannot understand how the study reached the conclusions it did,” the company said. “The research results do not correspond to the internal analyses that we conduct on a regular basis,” the company said in a response.
Manitoba rivers feed 400M pieces of microplastic into Lake Winnipeg every year
Danone, the company behind Evian and Indonesian brand Aqua, told Orb it is “not in a position to comment as the testing methodology used is unclear. There is still limited data on the topic, and conclusions differ dramatically from one study to another.”
Brazilian brand Minalba told Orb that it abides by all quality and security standards required by Brazilian legislation.
The American Beverage Association, which represents many of the biggest brands across North America, including Nestle, Evian, Dasani and Aquafina, told Orb that “the science on microplastics and microfibres is nascent and an emerging field…. We stand by the safety of our bottled water products and we are interested in contributing to serious scientific research that will … help us all understand the scope, impact and appropriate next steps.”
Brands Biserli and Wahaha did not respond to Orb’s request for comment.
Plastics, plastics everywhere
Within three decades, there will be more plastics in the oceans than fish. They are having a profound effect on the environment. In the oceans, vast quantities float on the surface, trapping sea life and blocking the sun’s rays from entering the waters.
Mason points out people can choose to not buy water in a plastic bottle, and to carry a refillable bottle instead. But for other products, there is no choice. The majority of products on grocery and retail store shelves are contained in plastic.
“It’s portable, it’s lightweight, it’s convenient, it’s cheap — that just makes it easy,” Mason says. “It’s so difficult to get people to care about things they can’t see.” [Emphasis added]
WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water, Researchers find levels of plastic fibres in popular bottled water brands could be twice as high as those found in tap water by Graham Readfearn, 15 Mar 2018, The Guardian
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after a new analysis of some of the world’s most popular bottled water brands found that more than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic. A previous study also found high levels of microplastics in tap water.
In the new study, analysis of 259 bottles from 19 locations in nine countries across 11 different brands found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being sold.
In one bottle of Nestlé Pure Life, concentrations were as high as 10,000 plastic pieces per litre of water. Of the 259 bottles tested, only 17 were free of plastics, according to the study.
Scientists based at the State University of New York in Fredonia were commissioned by journalism project Orb Media to analyse the bottled water.
The scientists wrote they had “found roughly twice as many plastic particles within bottled water” compared with their previous study of tap water, .
According to the new study, the most common type of plastic fragment found was polypropylene – the same type of plastic used to make bottle caps. The bottles analysed were bought in the US, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand.
Scientists used Nile red dye to fluoresce particles in the water – the dye tends to stick to the surface of plastics but not most natural materials.
The study has not been published in a journal and has not been through scientific peer review. Dr Andrew Mayes, a University of East Anglia scientist who developed the Nile red technique, told Orb Media he was “satisfied that it has been applied carefully and appropriately, in a way that I would have done it in my lab”.
The brands Orb Media said it had tested were: Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestlé Pure Life (Nestlé), San Pellegrino (Nestlé) and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group).
A World Health Organisation spokesman told the Guardian that although there was not yet any evidence on impacts on human health, it was aware it was an emerging area of concern. The spokesman said the WHO would “review the very scarce available evidence with the objective of identifying evidence gaps, and establishing a research agenda to inform a more thorough risk assessment.”
A second unrelated analysis, also just released, was commissioned by campaign group Story of Stuff and examined 19 consumer bottled water brands in the US.It also found plastic microfibres were widespread.
The brand Boxed Water contained an average of 58.6 plastic fibres per litre. Ozarka and Ice Mountain, both owned by Nestlé, had concentrations at 15 and 11 pieces per litre, respectively. Fiji Water had 12 plastic fibres per litre.
Abigail Barrows, who carried out the research for Story of Stuff in her laboratory in Maine, said there were several possible routes for the plastics to be entering the bottles.
“Plastic microfibres are easily airborne. Clearly that’s occurring not just outside but inside factories. It could come in from fans or the clothing being worn,” she said.
Stiv Wilson, campaign coordinator at Story of Stuff, said finding plastic contamination in bottled water was problematic “because people are paying a premium for these products”.
Jacqueline Savitz, of campaign group Oceana, said: “We know plastics are building up in marine animals and this means we too are being exposed, some of us every day. Between the microplastics in water, the toxic chemicals in plastics and the end-of-life exposure to marine animals, it’s a triple whammy.”
Nestlé criticised the methodology of the Orb Media study, claiming in a statement to CBC that the technique using Nile red dye could “generate false positives”.
Coca-Cola told the BBC it had strict filtration methods, but acknowledged the ubiquity of plastics in the environment meant plastic fibres “may be found at minute levels even in highly treated products”.
A Gerolsteiner spokesperson said the company, too, could not rule out plastics getting into bottled water from airborne sources or from packing processes. The spokesperson said concentrations of plastics in water from their own analyses were lower than those allowed in pharmaceutical products.
Danone claimed the Orb Media study used a methodology that was “unclear”. The American Beverage Association said it “stood by the safety” of its bottled water, adding that the science around microplastics was only just emerging.
The Guardian contacted Nestlé and Boxed Water for comment on the Story of Stuff study, but had not received a response at the time of publication.
[Refer also to:
A proportion (25% to 100%) of the water used in hydraulic fracturing is not recovered, and consequently this water is lost permanently to re-use, which differs from some other water uses in which water can be recovered and processed for re-use.
However, as a technology driven play, the rate of development of shale gas may become limited by the availability of required resources, such as fresh water….
Drilling and hydraulically fracturing wells can be water-intensive procedures; however, there is very limited Canadian experience from which to estimate potential environmental impacts. … Little is known about what the ultimate impact on freshwater resources will be. ]