Water UK and the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG) will join forces to reduce impacts of fracking on water resources.
In a Memorandum of Understanding, signed today, the two industry organisations have committed to make sure the impact of the controversial gas extraction technique on water and waste services is reduced to minimum.
The actions to be taken include regular monitoring of effects of shale gas drilling on the quality and quantity of local water supplies, the volume and appearance of waste water produced and the impact of expanding operations.
"This agreement with Water UK should give reassurance to local communities that the development of shale gas in the UK can proceed with minimal impact upon the local water and waste services,” said UKOOG chief executive Ken Cronin.
"The environmental regulation covering the onshore oil and gas industry in the UK is among the most stringent in the world and, in addition, the industry has agreed to tough and transparent guidelines on how we operate and interact with local communities."
According to Water UK chief executive Pamela Taylor, the Memorandum of Understanding will give water companies additional guarantees to ensure the protection of water resources and the environment.
"Our members are determined to ensure any potential risks of shale gas extraction are minimised,” Taylor said.
However, environmentalists don’t believe the newly established partnership will reduce concerns of farmers and other groups who might possibly be affected by the development of fracking.
"This agreement acknowledges that fracking will impact and affect the UK's water resources and environment,” said Greenpeace energy spokeswoman Anna Jones.
"Water is a key concern for people in areas where drilling is proposed, particularly among farmers, who're worried for their livestock. A voluntary agreement between Water UK and its major new client is unlikely to alleviate these concerns,” she said, emphasising the risk of accidents will never be completely eliminated
The Government firmly backs action to exploit what are believed to be large reserves of shale gas in rocks beneath the UK, which it claims could help bring down energy bills and create thousands of jobs.
On the other hand, environmentalists name many reasons against fracking. Apart from contamination of underground water resources, hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping large amounts of water under pressure into the ground, is feared to be able to trigger mild earthquakes. As the technology exploits fossil fuels, experts believe it would most probably lead to further escalation of the climate change.