Diamond Award for Hydrofracking Study

First-of-its-Kind Study Wins Top Honors from ACEC

(NEW YORK, NY – July 29, 2011) – New York City’s water supply provides high-quality drinking water to nearly half the population of New York State – more than 8 million people in New York City and another million people in upstate counties. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the city agency with primary responsibility for overseeing the operation, maintenance, and management of the water supply infrastructure and the protection of the 1,969-square-mile watershed. The Marcellus Shale, currently a prime target for natural gas drilling, underlies the entire portion of the New York City water supply located west of Hudson, N.Y. This west-of-Hudson area supplies 90% of the city’s drinking water and is of such high quality that the water does not require filtration.

In early 2008, the City first learned of natural gas leases within the watershed and that the State was considering modifying regulations governing natural gas exploration that would facilitate the use of hydrofracking. The issue became quickly polarized, with some groups perceiving this as the most serious threat to the environment in a generation and others viewing it as a much-needed boost for the local economy. The City quickly determined there was a need for a balanced, objective assessment that carefully evaluated realistic impacts on the water supply with a focus on water quality, water quantity, and the water supply infrastructure. Thus, the DEP commissioned a one-year study that yielded two reports on this important issue.

The first of its kind to be undertaken for one of the country’s largest cities, this study took a comprehensive approach to considering the potential benefits and drawbacks of natural gas development in the watershed. Combining hydrogeologic expertise with an in-depth knowledge of the watershed, as well as extensive research into natural gas development ventures in other parts of the country, Hazen and Sawyer produced a broad, highly-informed study that providing a detailed and defensible technical evaluation of gas extraction technologies and their correlating impacts on water supply and the environment.

Among other benefits, this benchmark study provides both a credible basis for advancing regulations concerning gas development in critical areas and a sound model for future studies of areas throughout the US to follow in analyzing the potential impacts of natural gas exploration on water supply.

Read the Rapid Impact Assessment on NYC DEP’s website

Read the Final Impact Assessment on NYC DEP’s website

Since our founding in 1951, Hazen and Sawyer has focused on two things: providing safe drinking water and controlling water pollution. Our range of services encompasses the planning, design, and construction management of water and wastewater-related projects – from clean water treatment, storage, and distribution to wastewater and stormwater collection, treatment, and reuse.

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