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D.C.’s water supply could be threatened by natural gas extraction in the George Washington National Forest, and the people ensured with keeping what comes out of your tap safe are not letting it happen without a fight.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a letter sent by Tom Jacobus, managing director of the Washington Aqueduct, to the U.S. Forest Service urging against allowing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the forest when the process could lead to the contamination of D.C.’s drinking water. “Although studies on the technique are still needed in order to fully understand the potential impact on drinking water,” Jacobus wrote, “enough study on the technique has been done and information has been published to give us great cause for concern about the potential for degradation of the quality of our raw water supply as well as impact to the quantity of the supply.”
Now DC Water General Manager George Hawkins is getting in on the action, and going straight to the top. Last week, he wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, whose department oversees the Forest Service.
“It is my hope that U.S. Forest Service will prohibit horizontal drilling in the George Washington National Forest until it can be proven that the practice will not negatively impact water quality,” Hawkins wrote in a letter obtained by Washington City Paper. “We do not believe that sufficient proof exists at this point to support horizontal drilling in such an important part of the watershed.”
Hawkins’ full letter is reprinted below.
Photo of the Potomac River via Flickr user JoshuaDavisPhotography