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Winter 2011 Issue of the Finger Lakes Sierran

Pipe Dreams?

by Gene Stolfi
Member, Finger Lakes Group Executive Committee
Member, Steuben County Environmental Management Council

We all have at some time been complacent about our surroundings. I know that I have always felt that our aquifers were deep below ground and safe from surface contamination. During a recent project at work, were we suspected hard water was causing equipment failure, I purchased an water quality tester and recorded some data on T.D.S. (total dissolved solids), in Erwin and Coming water supplies. As suspected the well water was very hard > 600 T.D.S. This test was during a dryspell 6-23-11,thru 6-29-11. After two days of rain showers, 8-5-11,thru 8-7-11, the well water softened to < 400 T.D.S., I repeated this testing and had similar results. Rain water dumps right into the aquifer and dilutes the hardness. This shows that surface spills, fracking fluids spread on road surfaces and anything spilled on the ground will immediately be dumped into the aquifers.

The pipe dream I had that our deep aquifers are safe from surface contamination was just that, a dream. The reality is that our ground is very porous and we must guard against all surface contamination.