Safe Drinking Water: A poem in two voices

Safe Drinking Water


Stop, Don’t                                                             Go ahead,

drink the water from that well.                  drink the water from that well.

Don’t put that water                                        It’s perfectly safe

in a pitcher.                                                           to put in your pitcher.

Those bubbles                                                   Those bubbles of gas

are not just air                                                    boiling up

boiling up —                                                         won’t kill you

Full of frick and frack                                      make your hair fall out

Watch: it lights on fire.                                   crack your skin in rash.

Don’t drink                                                             Go ahead, drink

that brownish-brackish                                  the yellow water

foul and murky                                                    with frick and frack seeping in —

migraine water.                                                   Your health problems

Let the well sit                                                     Must be caused

idle                                                                            by something else.

and buy your water, bottled.                           Me?            

                                                                                                        No thanks, I’m not thirsty.


By Jennifer Sanders


2 thoughts on “Safe Drinking Water: A poem in two voices

  1. Quivering, shaking, rocking, fracking
    Underground treasure or unstable cracking
    Allies and arguments nobody’s tracking
    Keepsakes and homes somebody’s trashing
    Eye open, eyes closed; I wonder who’s cashing?

  2. Frakin’ Fracking!!

    My husband and I moved from Los Angeles in 1999. We escaped crime, pollution, traffic and earthquakes! Or, so I thought.

    While living in the Los Angeles area I experienced many earthquakes. The 6.9 magnitude Northridge earthquake of 1994, was the most frightening. We lived 4 miles from Northridge.

    At 4:31 am, there was violent shaking that woke the whole area. I was asleep in bed when it hit. All I remember is waking up on all fours at the end of my bed, it was dark and we were in a bad earthquake, my husband was pulling me off of the bed to go stand in the doorway. I have blocked out all memories of getting to the end of the bed.

    That experience, made me carry a fear of earthquakes until we moved to Oklahoma.

    Then, on that dreaded Wednesday evening, October 2010, I felt that old familiar feeling all over again. A 4.3 earthquake in Oklahoma! It wasn’t nearly as violent or long as my Northridge experience, but I was certainly shaken! And, mad!

    When I heard that fracking in the oil and gas industry may be causing earthquakes in Oklahoma, all I could think was:

    Frakin’ Fracking!!

    Frak, is an expletive, used in the TV series Battlestar Gallactica. My husband and I enjoyed watching the newer version and would use the term once in a while. Now, I was learning about the term in a new way.

    Frak! No… “fracking”.
    What in the world is fracking? Well, fracking is an oil and well drilling process. But, it’s not the process itself, but the wastewater that causes earthquakes, well…. I’ll let others explain it:

    From the BBC article, “What is fracking and why is it controversial?” June 27, 2013:
    “Why is it called fracking?
    It is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing and refers to how the rock is fractured apart bythe high pressure mixture. Experts also refer to a “frac job” and a “frac unit”.”

    Oh, Frak Job!

    This New Republic article further explains fracking.
    Excerpt from a New Republic article, written by Rebecca Leber, July 15, 2014:
    “The question is whether these Oklahoma quakes are natural. Scientists increasingly believe that fracking by the oil and gas industry is triggering earthquakes in regions that otherwise should be relatively stable. Fracking itself isn’t to blame, they say, but the large amount of wastewater produced in the process. In fracking, a well is drilled into shale rock deep underground and a slurry of water and chemicals is forced into the rock, fracturing it and freeing up the oil or gas within. But then something must be done with the contaminated water that returns to the surface. The treated water is disposed of in a second well—a “wastewater injection well”—which may trigger earthquakes by pressuring and lubricating faults. (Mother Jones has a good animation of how the process works.)”
    “According to Rubinstein, very few of the 35,000 wastewater injection sites nationwide end up causing earthquakes, and even fewer quakes can be felt. And yet, a handful of wells can be linked to entire regions of seismic activity. For example, a recent study from Cornell University researchers in Science magazine found that four “modern, very high-rate injection wells” were linked to earthquake activity near one Oklahoma town.”

    So, it’s the fracking wastewater!

    How does it cause earthquakes?
    From a NPR interview with Joe Wertz of State Impact Oklahoma, July 31, 2014:
    “WERTZ: Well, more than 2,500 earthquakes have shaken this area since 2008, which accounts for about 20 percent of the quakes in the middle of the United States. Most of these disposal wells don’t cause quakes, but the earthquakes near Jones could have been caused by a handful of high-volume wells, where millions of barrels of water are pumped every month. What Keranen found is twofold. First, she found that wastewater pumped into the ground can travel a lot farther than initially thought and that it builds up pressure all along the way on its path. And this pressure can cause fault lines to slip and trigger an earthquake.”

    Frakin’ fracking.

    Earthquakes. You might be thinking, the earthquakes are not that bad. But fracking causes many other serious environmental problems. Are you interested in the quality of your drinking water and the air that you breathe? It not only causes earthquakes, but a lot of other bad stuff that you might be interested in.

    From the BBC article, “What is fracking and why is it controversial?” June, 2013:
    “The extensive use of fracking in the US, where it has revolutionized the energy industry, has prompted environmental concerns.
    The first is that fracking uses huge amounts of water that must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost. The second is the worry that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site. The industry suggests pollution incidents are the results of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.
    There are also worries that the fracking process can cause small earth tremors.”

    Check out the cool graphical layout on this site:
    Dangers of Fracking states:
    “During this process, methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the system and contaminate nearby groundwater.
    Methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.
    Contaminated well water is used for drinking water for nearby cities and towns.
    There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.
    The waste fluid is left in open air pits to evaporate, releasing harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air, acid rain, and ground level ozone.”

    Frakin’ fracking!

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