AUG 17, 2018 5:44 AM PDT

Fracking uses 770% more water now than in 2011

Research from Duke University shows that our fracking practices are becoming more and more harmful to the environment. From 2011-2016, the amount of water used per well for hydraulic fracturing rose 770% in all major U.S. shale gas and oil production regions. During the same time, the amount of wastewater that fracked oil and gas wells produced during their first year of production also jumped up 1440%. That’s not good news for our ever-drought-laden climate.

"Previous studies suggested hydraulic fracturing does not use significantly more water than other energy sources, but those findings were based only on aggregated data from the early years of fracking," said co-author, Avner Vengosh. "After more than a decade of fracking operation, we now have more years of data to draw upon from multiple verifiable sources. We clearly see a steady annual increase in hydraulic fracturing's water footprint, with 2014 and 2015 marking a turning point where water use and the generation of flowback and produced water began to increase at significantly higher rates.”

To determine this conclusion, the team analyzed six years of data. They gathered data from industry, government, and non-profit sources about water use and natural gas, oil and wastewater production for more than 12,000 individual wells located in all major U.S. shale gas and tight oil producing regions. From this analysis, the researchers concluded that if the demand for oil stays the same (even at its current low) or rises, cumulative water use and wastewater volumes could leap up by 50-fold in unconventional gas-producing regions by 2030, and by up to 20-fold in unconventional oil-producing regions.

"Even if prices and drilling rates remain at current levels, our models still predict a large increase by 2030 in both water use and wastewater production," said Andrew J. Kondash, lead author of the paper.

Photo: watertechonline.com

The authors warn that that rate of water usage is unsustainable, especially in arid and semi-arid regions that are already facing droughts, wildfires, and heat waves. Better management practices will be needed in order to improve hydraulic fracturing techniques so as to not stress already vulnerable water resources.

Sources: Science Daily, Science Advances

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 17, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Physicists Transform Pure Energy into Matter and Antimatter
AUG 17, 2021
Physicists Transform Pure Energy into Matter and Antimatter
A new study published in Physical Review Letters presents evidence for the creation of matter and antimatter from energy ...
SEP 07, 2021
Earth & The Environment
The Future of Flooding
SEP 07, 2021
The Future of Flooding
In the wake of recent flooding on the east coast as a result of Hurricane Ida, many people are wondering what the future ...
OCT 07, 2021
Health & Medicine
A School-based Approach to Combatting Adolescent Obesity
OCT 07, 2021
A School-based Approach to Combatting Adolescent Obesity
It should come as no surprise that obesity is a significant public health concern associated with astronomical economic ...
OCT 08, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Evidence of human activity 400,000 years ago in Saudi Arabia
OCT 08, 2021
Evidence of human activity 400,000 years ago in Saudi Arabia
Incredible new evidence pushed back Asia's earliest contact with hominins
OCT 14, 2021
Plants & Animals
The Physics of Insect Swarms
OCT 14, 2021
The Physics of Insect Swarms
Do you know those pesky bugs that happen swarm in front of your door right as you open it? Those swarms and the insects ...
OCT 20, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Building Better Crops: Pumpkin and Squash
OCT 20, 2021
Building Better Crops: Pumpkin and Squash
It’s the time of year for all things pumpkin. But what do you really know about pumpkins? They are generally consi ...
Loading Comments...