Finding peace in the drilling fields

"The water quality is a big issue to me," Greenfield said. "Once you contaminate your water, I don't care who does it, it's hard to uncontaminate it."

For Greenfield, water is a more valuable resource at this point than the gas that may be located beneath his farmland and his belief is that several years down the road, water will be more of a commodity than natural gas.

"I don't mind just straight drilling, but hydrofracking you don't know what chemicals are being used. It's definitely a topic that's being raised," Greenfield said.

While Carson and others in the gas industry maintain that the process is safe and water table contamination is as-yet unheard of, horror stories of exploding wells, leaching toxic waste and ruined drinking water abound in other parts of the country.

"From day one, from the first door we knocked on, the concern has always been 'our water,'" Carson said. With experience drilling for gas throughout the country, Carson said he found the draft SGEIS regulations to be extremely thorough, but workable.

A significant portion of the SGEIS is directed to maintaining the quality of private and public water sources, including requiring drilling operations to test water quality in surrounding water wells before, during and after drilling.

Questions also lie in the treatment of the "flowback water," the portion of fracking fluid that returns to the surface after the process is complete. The millions of gallons of toxic brine solution could be treated and become drinking water, but by whom?

Onondaga County Water Authority Executive Director Michael Hooker said OCWA's water treatment facility is not equipped to treat fracking fluid primarily because the facility does not regularly treat for many chemicals used in the process.

"We don't know what chemicals are used," Hooker said. "They treat them as proprietary."

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