Utah’s clean water supplies could be at risk after the state announced plans to begin pumping chemicals into the state’s groundwater aquifers.
The move comes after years of warnings that the state could face a public health crisis from the chemicals released into the waterways by fracking.
The new plan announced Thursday by the state is part of an effort to increase water conservation in the state and lessen the impacts of the fracking boom.
Utah’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) said it plans to install more than 300 “water filters” in the water system, which would be located along major rivers and streams.
The filters will filter out contaminants such as benzene and ethylbenzene, two chemical compounds known to leach into groundwater.
The state is also considering installing more than 100 “water treatment plants” that would treat wastewater from underground injection wells to remove harmful chemicals, DWR said.
It is unclear whether these plants will be connected to the wastewater treatment plants or not.
The new plan also calls for a “greening” of some of the state of Utah’s most heavily polluted rivers.
The plan would also encourage residents to avoid swimming in or near streams with toxic chemicals.
The plan calls for the “immediate release of drinking water in the Utah City, Salt Lake, Provo and Zion areas from the following sources to reduce the impact of wastewater treatment.”
The plan also includes new standards for wastewater treatment that would require treatment plants to capture more than 90 percent of the waste that enters the wastewater system and treat it before it is discharged into rivers.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert said in a statement that the proposal “signals a major change in our approach to clean water.”
“The state of the water that flows into our rivers, lakes and streams will be more safe for our children and families,” Herbert said.
“We need to work together to develop an innovative plan that addresses our state’s water quality problems while also protecting the health of Utahns.”
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