According to water industry association Water UK, shale gas fracking could lead to contamination of the water supply with methane gas and harmful chemicals if not carefully planned and carried out.

It also expressed concerns about the significant amount of water used in the fracking process, which will “inevitably put a strain on supplies” in areas around extraction sites.

Further issues raised by the association included, potential damage to existing water pipes caused by the power of the drilling and fracturing process, which could lead to leaks and shortages to people’s homes and businesses.

However, water companies have emphasised that they want to work closely with the shale gas industry to realise “the potential benefits to the UK’s long-term growth and employment” while protecting public health.

In a speech at the UK Shale 2013 – Making It Happen conference in London on Wednesday, policy and business adviser at Water UK Dr Jim Marshall said: “Provision of drinking water is a cornerstone of our public health and as such a service that cannot be compromised.

“There are arguments for and against fracking and the water industry is not taking sides. If it goes ahead, we want to ensure corners are not cut and standards compromised, leaving us all counting the cost for years to come.

“We want greater clarity from the shale gas industry on what its needs related to water are really going to be and a true assessment of the impacts. This can be done through much closer working and understanding between water companies and the shale gas industry to tackle the many challenges we collectively face.”

Leigh Stringer

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