lake_fall_120Opponents of hydrofracking say there hasn't been enough scientific research, while industry groups say the research is adequate and clearly shows that hydrofracking can be done safely.

The peer-reviewed journal, New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental & Occupational Health Policy has just published a special issue on hydrofracking, edited by Ithaca residents Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald. The issue, which is available online for free thanks to an anonymous donor, features articles on regulatory effectiveness and impacts on public health, the economy, and community life.

Staff from the Ithaca-based nonprofit Community Science Institute (CSI) authored a feature article in the journal titled, "Community-Based Risk Assessment of Water Contamination from High-Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing". CSI staff Stephen Penningroth, Ph.D., Matthew Yarrow, Ph.D., Abner Figueroa, Rebecca Bowen and Soraya Delgado co-authored the article, which reports on the effectiveness of assessing risks to water from hydrofracking by gathering extensive baseline water quality data.

The Community Science Institute operates a state-certified water quality testing laboratory that partners with groups of volunteers to monitor local water quality. In response to the possibility of hydrofracking coming to New York, CSI launched a "Regional Baseline Initiative" and developed programs for assessing baseline water quality in streams and private groundwater wells prior to any hydrofracking taking place.

To establish baseline water quality for small creeks and streams in the Southern Tier, CSI trains groups of volunteers in sampling and test methods. Volunteers adopt sites and monitor them on a regular basis. Data from over 100 stream locations is published in CSI's interactive database.

To date, CSI has tested more than 200 private wells in New York for 71 parameters that would be most likely to change as a result of hydrofracking. CSI has obtained permission from more than 160 of these private well owners to pool their data and publish results online in anonymous formats that safeguard privacy. CSI is developing a groundwater database where users can search, view with graphs and maps, and download private well data for research purposes. Currently, anyone can visit the CSI website and download a table of results. The private wells tested so far show generally excellent water quality.