Full Frame: Water and Sustainability

Full Frame

Overpopulation, pollution, and climate change are threatening water supplies worldwide.

One of the culprits of water pollution is fracking – short for hydraulic fracturing. It’s a process of drilling deep into shale rock and using high-pressure water and chemicals to release the gas trapped inside.

Journalist and filmmaker Melissa Troutman is from Coudersport, Pennsylvania, one of the United States’ fracking hotspots.  She has been investigating pollution to the community’s water sources.

“We found many cases where the state decided not to visit the home, decided not to test the water. They just chose not to investigate,” she said.

The gas industry says the process is safe. Underground water sources that provide drinking water are about 200 feet below the surface, while  the gas-producing shale rock tends to be at 6,000 feet below the surface.  

“People think that the oil and gas industries number one product is oil or natural gas. But the number one thing produced is actually toxic wastewater,” Troutman said.

In Phoenix, Arizona, the challenge is water scarcity, fear that the Colorado River will dry up due to rising temperatures.

“In certain areas, the challenges have risen to a level of crisis,” said water systems engineer Margaret Garcia.

Globally, communities are finding innovative solutions to their water challenges. In Lima, Peru, giant nets o the hillside pull water in from the fog.  In a migrant community in Morocco, residents collect condensed water from the gutter.  In China, “sponge cities” are being designed to collect water through permeable roads and rooftop gardens.

Environmentalists have long called for a switch to energy sources that don’t rely on burning fossil fuels.

Vaishali Sinha is the founder of ReNew Power, India’s largest renewable energy company.

According to the World Health Organization, 14 out of the 15 most polluted cities in the world in 2016 were in India. With a population of 1.3 billion people, India has seen increased construction, industrial waste, and massive growth in the number of vehicles on the road.

“It’s clear. It’s kind of writing on the wall that we all have to optimize the use of clean energy,” Sinha said.