Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
United States Science Technology

Fracking Is Draining Water From Areas In US Suffering Major Shortages 268

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "RT reports that some of the most drought-ravaged areas of the US are also heavily targeted for oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing — a practice that exacerbates water shortages with half of the oil and gas wells fracked across America since 2011 located in places suffering through drought. Taken together, all the wells surveyed from January 2011 to May 2013 consumed 97 billion gallons of water, pumped under high pressure to crack rocks containing oil or natural gas. Up to 10 million gallons can go into a single well. 'Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country's most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions,' says Mindy Lubber. 'Barring stiffer water-use regulations and improved on-the-ground practices, the industry's water needs in many regions are on a collision course with other water users, especially agriculture and municipal water use.' Nearly half (47%) of oil and gas wells recently hydraulically fractured in the U.S. and Canada are in regions with high or extremely high water stress. Amanda Brock, head of a water-treatment firm in Houston, says oil companies in California are already exploring ways to frack using the briny, undrinkable water found in the state's oil fields. While fracking consumes far less water than agriculture or residential uses, the impact can be huge on particular communities and is 'exacerbating already existing water problems,' says Monika Freyman. Hydraulic fracking is the 'latest party to come to the table,' says Freyman. The demands for the water are 'taking regions by surprise,' she says. More work needs to be done to better manage water use, given competing demand."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Fracking Is Draining Water From Areas In US Suffering Major Shortages

Comments Filter:
  • by Eric Coleman ( 833730 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @09:23AM (#46172733)
    Disclaimer, I'm no fan of this. However, this is article is missing critical information, namely, how much water do these drought ridden communities normally use? The number 97 billion sounds like a lot, but without some sort of baseline for comparison it could actually be a small percentage of total water demands for a community.

    If one does some Fermi math on this, then it is a little less than 2 gallons per person per day per person in Texas. That's less water than a toilet uses. Are any of these drought ridden areas telling people to not flush their toilets?
  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @09:31AM (#46172783) Journal
    This most of this article is based on information from the Ceres Investor Group []. So, who are they?

    Ceres mobilizes a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy.

    Our mission is to mobilize investor and business leadership to build a thriving, sustainable global economy.

    They are a self-professed environmental activist organization. That puts the results of their self-done study in question.

    The major tip-off that something wasn't right was the title of this submission. It implies that fracking is causing water shortages by destroying watershead via draining. The report doesn't say that. What it says is that fracking uses lots of water and most fracking operations are taking in areas that are experiencing water shortages and/or drought.

    The rest of the article is based on information from another journalistic source that is known to be biased.

  • Context people (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @09:34AM (#46172805) Homepage Journal

    10M gallons is a lot of water, isn't it? 97B is unimaginable, isn't it?

    Well, at least until you start figuring that American families average 300 gallons []. So 10M gallons for a single well is 'merely' 1 years worth of water for a 100 families. With 115M households, that's ~12.6T gallons of water used by people at home every year. Meaning Fracking is .8% of domestic water usage.

    Then figure that 'domestic' is only 8.5% of our water usage, with irrigation taking up 37% and thermoelectric power 42%.

    I don't object to making fracking companies pay a premium, import their water, use treated & filtered sewage, or other options to leave the 'good water' to people who need it, but let's face it - your average water company could save more water patching leaks they've let sit for a while(17% of domestic usage is wasted on leaks) than what fraking companies use.

  • by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @09:36AM (#46172815) Homepage Journal

    OK, "Ceres Investor Group" may be biased but that does not mean their data is wrong.

    As a matter of fact, most of the the time, the studies financed by Big Business are much more biased than the ones financed by environmental groups.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @09:47AM (#46172905) Homepage

    They are a self-professed environmental activist organization. That puts the results of their self-done study in question.

    And, of course, anything the companies doing the fracking tell us is also in question, because it's in their interests to say "but it's safe". So if you're going to dismiss what the environmentalists tell you, you also need to dismiss what the oil companies are telling you.

    It implies that fracking is causing water shortages by destroying watershead via draining.

    And where do you think that water comes from? Either wells or the municipal supply -- which will lead to draining the wastershed faster.

    Unless these companies are bringing in their own water to do the fracking, it could only be coming from the local supply. And if you're draining that much water, you will have an impact.

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @09:48AM (#46172915)

    It's 0.14% of what is used for irrigation in agriculture. In other words: almost nothing.

    To be sure, fracking must be regulated. Very well and tightly regulated, especially concerning the chemicals used and the way fracking fluid is disposed. But I've grown up right next to some of the largest landstrip mines in the world and trust me: everything is better than that!

  • Holy crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hyfe ( 641811 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @10:03AM (#46173073)

    Holy crap. Up until now I thought all the 'beta sucks' comments where just 'I hate new stuff'-type comments...

    .. but I just got served my first beta-page and well, it sucks. It sucks on so many levels I actually think this design isn't salvagable. It's so hard to read, navigate and use that it is, well, useless. I am honestly curious how anyone would think it's a good idea to push anything like this out to users.

    Seriously, this is even worse than Windows 8 (the first windows version, including Vista, I hated enough to not even keep as a dual-boot alternative). What's wrong with people?

  • Re:About beta. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheNastyInThePasty ( 2382648 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @10:06AM (#46173111)

    My advice to the peons working on Slashdot: find another job. The veracity with which this "upgrade" is being pushed displays a stubbornness that can only be attributed to MBAs with no idea of what Slashdot is about. The fact that the commenting system is such an afterthought in the Beta is as much evidence as I need that the people pushing this redesign never use this site.

    I know you don't get to decide whether or not the Beta moves forward or which design gets used, but believe this: You WILL be blamed when it fails. You work for a corporation now and the higher ups with undoubtedly throw you under the bus when they have to explain to their bosses or shareholders why the website redesign failed. This failure is going to be associated with you and your teammates and it will set back any hopes you have of being promoted within the company. Take the advice of me and my fellow Slashdotters: Get out now.

  • by grahamm ( 8844 ) <> on Thursday February 06, 2014 @10:26AM (#46173295) Homepage

    If the area has a drought then priority for water should be given to human consumption and hygene usages. Anyone using 'industrial' quantities of water should be charged in such a way as to discourage its use. Either that or the oil companies should have to pay for pipelines and pumps to bring sea water to their sites rather than competing for the local water supply. Even better make them not only pipe in sea water but also provide desalination plants to augment the local drinking water supplies. After all, the oil companies are no strangers to long distance pipelines.

  • Re:Context people (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rabun_bike ( 905430 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @10:55AM (#46173617)
    Of course all of the water usage you are citing in comparison is sent back into the water supply system. A lot of fracking fluid is injected into deep disposal wells and does not re-enter the water system. The industry is trying to move to more recycling but is complicated and costly due to the chemicals and minerals in the fracking water. []
  • by Cycloid Torus ( 645618 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @11:50AM (#46174241) Journal
    Take a look at []
  • by Burz ( 138833 ) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @01:41PM (#46175619) Homepage Journal

    This economist's pipedream looks like a recipe for externalizing the ravages of water depletion to the environment and to the dinner tables of working class people.

    Markets cannot automatically set priorities that involve the quality of the environment or long-term societal goals (like weaning off of fossil fuels) because the only decisions left are billions of seemingly isolated day-to-day petty greed choices that gang up against any larger considerations.

    Ecologists must have a say in how government policy reacts to a new industrial trend like this.

This login session: $13.76, but for you $11.88.