Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 50,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.

The AWWA issued a White Paper on the Hydraulic Fracturing process and its potential risks to water supplies in the United States. You can download the .PDF file of the White Paper here: //

Below is the conclusion statement of the AWWA White Paper about the Hydraulic Fracturing process:


It is important to acknowledge that oil and gas production, like any industrial activity, carries some risk. Although the risks associated with these activities are difficult to quantify, evidence points toward the known risks being manageable through prudent regulations and industry best practices. It is also important to remember that oil and gas development also offers tangible and significant benefits to society, and its risks should be balanced against those benefits.

First, the expansion of oil and natural gas development has created substantial economic opportunities and employment in many areas. Second, natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel that produces much lower emissions of a multitude of pollutants than its alternatives, and natural gas carries a smaller “carbon footprint” than other common fossil fuels. Finally, the increased production of oil and natural gas both domestically and globally has led to lower energy prices and greater certainty over access to future energy supplies. In turn, that is associated with cost savings and other economic benefits to both water utilities and their customers. Both benefits and risks should be closely examined when considering oil and gas development issues.

This paper demonstrates that fracking is just one limited aspect of overall oil and gas development activities. At this time, AWWA is aware of no proven cases of groundwater contamination directly attributable to hydraulic fracturing. However, shale gas development has brought new or increased concerns about the potential for adverse effects in many areas. These concerns include the risk of accidents and spills, improper construction, improper waste disposal, and improper well abandonment. Ultimately many concerns are about the safety of drinking water and water resources.

With respect to the first set of concerns, there are safeguards in place to encourage responsible oil and natural gas develpment. Oil and gas development is a regulated activity that involves legal controls and well-established industry best practices. In addition, drinking water utilities monitor their source water supplies to ensure they are of the highest possible quality even before those waters are treated for human consumption. That being said, even the best regulatory structure cannot prevent all possible accidents in energy development; therefore careful planning and preparation is essential.

With respect to concerns over the safety of our drinking water, it is important to remind the public that drinking water delivered to customers is subject to comprehensive regulation to ensure its safety. Drinking water is treated and tested frequently to ensure it meets strict federal and state standards, and any violations that do occur must be corrected immediately. Customers must also be informed— immediately in the case of acute threats to health—if any violations of drinking water quality standards have occurred.

Although some policy decisions will be made on the state or national level, ultimately, many critical decisions regarding the protection
of particular watersheds and aquifers will be made locally, by regulators, oil and gas developers, and water utilities. In making these decisions, the protection of drinking water must be a paramount concern. Consequently, individual water utilities would be served well by evaluating risks and advocating for appropriate source water protection measures based upon their analyses. An informed water utility can be a key voice in ensuring that energy production and safe water coexist peacefully in the years ahead.