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To Drill or Not to Drill

Collision Course: New York City’s Water Supply Meets Natural Gas Hydraulic Fracturing

By Don O'Hagan 
The Marcellus Shale Formation is a unit of sedimentary rock found in eastern North America. This formation is named for a distinctive outcrop near the village of Marcellus in upstate New York. This formation contains largely untapped natural gas reserves and its proximity to the high-demand markets along the East Coast of the United States make it an attractive target for energy development. The Marcellus Shale Formation, which extends across much of Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia, Ohio and New York, is likely the nation's largest shale reservoir and geologists say it could satisfy U.S. natural gas demand for a decade or more.  However, accessing this vast fuel source could come at a very high price to human health and the environment.
New York City's water supply system is one of the most extensive municipal water systems in the world. This system relies on tunnels, aqueducts and reservoirs to meet the daily needs of 8 million residents and visitors. The system has storage capacity of 550 billion gallons and provides over 1.2 billion gallons per day of high quality drinking water to more than eight million city residents and another one million users in four upstate counties bordering on the water supply system. Thanks to well-protected wilderness watersheds, New York's water treatment process is simpler than in other American cities. One advantage of the system is that 95% of the total water supply is supplied by gravity. The NYC water distribution system is made up of an extensive grid of water mains stretching approximately 6,500 miles.
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