Another Creepy Story About the Threat to New Yorkers' Drinking Water

A creepy new development related to possible hazards to New York City's drinking water comes courtesy of an upstate woman. Laurie Lygle Lytle allowed a natural-gas exploration company to lease her Geneva backyard for drilling. The result? Her well water wound up murky and cloudy, she tells the Voice, and the drilling company has paid her for damages.

Lytle's experience with drilling in the Marcellus Shale has just now worked its way into public view down here, where city officials are already upset about drilling plans upstate.

State officials have already discovered, says ProPublica, that wastewater created by the drilling process in the Marcellus Shale is unhealthily radioactive. (That's not the only type of feared pollution.) The vast geologic formation underlies the city's watershed. [CORRECTIONS: We misspelled Laurie Lytle's last name in the initial version of this story. Also, her property is near the Marcellus, but the drilling in her yard was not in the Marcellus. Thanks to the readers who pointed that out.]

A relatively new drilling technique called "hydrofracking" has made upstate New York attractive to gas-exploration companies. But New York City officials have already called for a ban on drilling near the reservoirs that supply unfiltered drinking water to 9 million people in the city. Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for Mayor Mike Bloomberg, tells the Voice that Lytle's story is yet another cause for concern — the city's been adamant on at least this environmental issue.

Lytle, 62, who works in the wine industry, leased her land in 2007 to the natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy. Her experience with Chesapeake has now popped up on the website of the Ithaca-based activist group Toxics

Chesapeake said in September that it will no longer drill directly in the New York City watershed, but it's not the only company involved in upstate drilling.

In any case, both Chesapeake and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation contend that there isn't "a documented case of drinking water contamination related to" hydrofracking.

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