AUG 17, 2018 05:44 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 15, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 15, 2018
Even Newer Pesticides Threaten Bees, Study Finds
Bees and other vital pollinators have experienced significant population declines in the face of widespread pesticide usage, especially in the case of neon...
SEP 07, 2018
Earth & The Environment
SEP 07, 2018
The Ocean Cleanup will finally launch tomorrow
Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013 when he was just 18 years old in his hometown of Delft, the Netherlands. The foundation aims to develop s...
OCT 05, 2018
Earth & The Environment
OCT 05, 2018
Visualizing your home's air quality
Air quality is largely invisible. But what if you could see it? I’m not talking about air pollution that’s so bad that the whole city is covere...
OCT 05, 2018
Microbiology
OCT 05, 2018
Reducing Pollution with Engineered Bacteria
A varsity of creative strategies have been proposed as solutions to climate change, from practical to outlandish....
OCT 15, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 15, 2018
Plant Growth Stunted by Shorter Winters, Study Finds
As climate change rears its ugly head, Winters are getting shorter and the Spring season is kicking off earlier in the year. Plants are responding to these...
NOV 03, 2018
Earth & The Environment
NOV 03, 2018
The battle of the scientists vs. Hawaiin conservationists, featuring: a telescope
The controversy between Hawaiian conservationists and scientists intensifies with the Supreme Court’s recent approval of the 18-story Thirty Meter Te...
Loading Comments...