Yukon fracking threatens groundwater safety: hydrologist
Read this Jan. 31 article from the Whitehorse Star on the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing of shale gas wells on the Yukon’s groundwater:
The Yukon needs a better understanding of its groundwater system before the government gives hydraulic fracturing a green light.
That was the message this morning from hydrologist Gilles Wendling.
Wendling was the first of eight experts scheduled to make presentations before the select committee regarding the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing today and Saturday in the legislative assembly.
In the Yukon there are about 1,000 sites where surface water is monitored, but only seven groundwater monitoring stations – and only one of those seven groundwater monitoring sites is in an area with shale gas potential, Wendling noted.
“We are extremely ignorant about groundwater,” he said.
“We don’t know where our aquifers are. Even the shallow aquifers, we don’t know where they are, we don’t know how big they are, we don’t know how deep they are. We don’t know the water table elevation, we don’t even know in which direction the groundwater moves, we don’t know, we haven’t collected the information.”
About a decade ago Wendling was involved with a study examining the source of the Liard Hot Springs. The researchers found that the springs are likely sourced from surface water that migrates to depths of 3.4 km where it reaches temperatures of 120 degrees C before moving back to the surface.
Wendling called it “quite the discovery.”
Industry, he said, believes there’s a disconnect between groundwater at such depths and water at the surface, but his findings at the Liard Hot Springs suggest otherwise.