Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee Dumps On Upstate
Anybody Need Any Frack Water?

The Chenango River — at a point just downstream of Chenango Forks, NY — is currently running in excess of 20,000 cubic feet per second.  I haven't been paying very close attention, but I'm assuming that this Fall Flood of 2011 will be credited to some leftover dampness from Tropical Storm Lee.

That big a flow translates to more than 12 billion gallons per day running past the point where the U.S. Geological Survey has long maintained a station, tucked behind the golf course at Chenango Valley State Park.  Robotically updated, up-to-the-hour data from this riverside sampling point, and 241 others just in New York, are all online here (and very handy for both canoeists and downstream homeowners).

I realize this is an extreme amount of water, and an extreme situation, and it hopefully won't stay that way for very long. 

But, just as a thought experiment, consider this... 

Once the NYS DEC and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission allow the enterprise of shale gas drilling to finally get a move-on in NY, what would the limits be if industry was permitted to use just 1 percent of what's flowing right now at Chenango Forks?

That would give the hydrofrackers a supply of 120 million gallons per day, without even touching the other 99 percent left to run downstream.

Needing 5 million gallons to hydraulically fracture a single horizontal shale gas well, that would be enough for 24 wells per day — far, far more, and far, far faster, than NYS will ever see happen.

And yet the drilling opposition continues to score points with mathematically illiterate folks who chose careers in politics or journalism — with many still preferring to wring their collective hands over the spectre of a fracking-induced water shortage.

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