River in Ohiopyle State Park
A river flows through Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania

Do you consider clean drinking water a given? I know that on most days, I turn on the tap without worry.

But across the globe and throughout the U.S, millions are without access to clean drinking water or are having to fight to keep their ground water safe.

Right now, people who live in the rolling hills above the Marcellus Shale deposit that stretches across West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York are finding out that their groundwater, farmland, communities and wild places are at risk from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Fracking is a wildly destructive method of extracting natural gas from shale that uses incredible volumes of water, consumes extreme amounts of energy and can leave toxic messes–including toxic groundwater.

Already a problem out west, fracking is moving east and gaining attention, in part due to the new documentary, Gasland, by a PA resident who explores the impacts of fracking across the country after being offered a lease for a company to do hydraulic fracturing on his land.

The threats to wildlife, wild places and people from fracking–a practice that has the potential to pollute huge quantities of water with toxic chemicals–are numerous and serious. NWF’s comments to the EPA on a proposed new study of fracking (pdf) highlighted one of many examples of the impacts that toxic fracking chemicals has had on waterways and wildlife:

On September 16, 2009, 8,000 gallons of fracking fluid leaked into Stevens Creek near Dimrock, Pennsylvania, causing minnows, salamanders and tadpoles to swim erratically and die. Nationwide, reports of dead and tumored cattle, deer, chipmunks, and other wildlife near fracturing sites have surfaced in various locations.

Dimrock, PA, has become synonymous with the danger of fracking and not only because of the chemical leak that leaked into Stevens Creek. In this small town wells have exploded, drinking water has been contaminated, and radioactive water sits in holding ponds on farmers’ land.

Water is far to precious to be riddled with toxic waste. Our drinking water and the health of people and wildlife depend on us protecting valuable groundwater from misuse. Share the video clips from Gasland with your friends to spread the word.

This post is part of Change.org’s Blog Action Day and is part of a larger conversation. Today, bloggers across the country are uniting to talk about one thing–water. It is cross-posted on the National Wildlife Federation’s Action Fund website.