Licences have recently been granted to allow exploratory fracking for methane gas trapped in subterranean layers of shale in the Upper Test Valley. The process seeks to exploit reserves of methane gas by injecting a mixture of sand and water at high pressure into the shale to displace the gas. Concerns have long been held over the possibility of increased minor seismic activity associated with a period of fracking and over the threat of possible contamination of ground water. But for a unique river like the Test that relies on groundwater flow for the majority of its replenishment, concerns must be held over the source of the huge quantity of water required for the fracking process. A report produced by the Environment Agency almost a decade ago stated that the upper Test Valley was at the limit of possible groundwater abstraction and that no more could be pulled from the ground, but bar a bunch of bottles or a train of tankers there is no other obvious source of water in the area for the thirsty fracking process.
The potential for seismic activity may add a little “frisson” to the day and I know that in some parts of the world it is seen as a clean and bountiful source of energy, but the common link with all those parts where fracking is seen as a success is a plentiful supply of water.
The Test Valley does not have a plentiful supply of water, neither does most of the South East of England, so I am sure that somewhere in this proposal for exploratory fracking someone has got a really clever plan as to how the required water can be sourced from elsewhere.
But then again.......
There now follows a short film taken at 8.30pm on the 4th of June 2013 of a chalkstream full of water and, bar a bit of colour to the water, not far from its prime.
If there is no plan for an alternative source of water, and the water is to be abstracted from the surrounding aquifers of the Test Valley, we will be the last generation to see this river in this kind of condition.
Time to start taking the threat of over abstraction in the Upper Test Valley seriously perhaps?