Studies by Harvard and the EPA both conclude that the amount of water needed to drill and fracture a horizontal shale gas well generally ranges from about 2 million to 4 million gallons, depending on the basin and formation characteristics. The total number of fracked wells in the US is very difficult to ascertain for a variety of reasons though the 'Fracking by the Numbers' report found that fracking has occurred in at least 17 states with about 82,000 wells operating nationally. Worldwide the total is a well concealed mystery but it's staggering.
In Canada nobody knows for sure how many fracked wells there are or how much non-renewable fresh water is being destroyed. Why not? Well it's not in either the industry or the government's interest to know because it can only be negative headlines and bad news in their opinions. Ecojustice is in court trying to find out. When asked: "How much water does fracking use in BC?" The Ecojustice spokesman says, "No one knows for sure. This means that the regulator and the public do not know for certain how much water has been taken, and from where, at any given time. The Commission now requires self-reporting by companies for approvals but this does not capture all water use by the oil and gas industry." One BC specific website i found, STOP FRACKING BRITISH COLUMBIA - DEATH BY A THOUSAND FRACKS, has some good articles and links to more info.
A 2013 report by the group Ceres, 'Hydraulic Fracturing Faces Growing Competition for Water Supplies in Water-Stressed Regions', examined 25,450 fracked wells across the United States and found that 47 percent lie in areas that face high or extremely high water stress. The extraction of so much water for fracking has raised concerns about the ecological impacts to aquatic resources, as well as dewatering of drinking water aquifers.
As the documentary 'Last Call at the Oasis' - a frightening look at the global water crisis - explains, 90% of the freshwater humans use currently goes to agriculture, much of that at the expense of aquifers whose levels are dropping faster every year as we race to build bigger pumps that reach deeper. Watching this doc. on CBC recently touched me deeply because, like the climate, the weather and the air we breath, water connects us all. 'Last Call at the Oasis' starts out somewhat as an extension of another great book and movie, 'Cadillac Desert', that nearly 20 years ago focused on our culture's abusive and unconscious waste of this most precious and irreplaceable resource.
Where irrigation depends on aquifers We are depending on fossil water that is also effectively a non-renewable resource, Water tables are falling by several feet per year in many parts of the developing world dependent on groundwater sources, notably beneath rapidly growing urban centres with an insatiable demand for water, but also beneath agricultural regions. With a liquid treasure below their feet and a global market eager for their products, farmers here and around the developed world have made a Faustian bargain - giving up long-term conservation for short-term gain. To capitalize on economic opportunities, landowners are knowingly “mining” a finite resource.
For instance, the Ogallala Aquifer, the vast underground reservoir that gives life to the breadbasket of Ameria - the region that supplies at least one fifth of the total annual U.S. agricultural harvest. If the aquifer goes dry, more than $20 billion worth of food and fiber will vanish from the world. In some places, the groundwater is already gone.and scientists say it will take natural processes 6,000 years to refill the Ogallala….
Where the Colorado River ends and no longer reaches the ocean.
As Raúl Ilargi Meijer explains in 'Physical Limits to Food Security: Water and Climate', "Our relentless human expansion is running up against hard, non-negotiable limits to food security, which is already threatened in so many places. Our current extractive methods amount to a draw down of natural capital, allowing us to feed (most of) ourselves today, but in highly wasteful ways which are already compromising our ability to feed ourselves and our descendants tomorrow. Those in a position to do so chase short term economic gain at the expense of burning through non-renewable resources in ways which clearly make no sense with respect to any logic other than short term economic benefit. Those at the other end of the financial food chain also prioritize what could, in a sense, be called short term gain, but for them is in fact a matter of short term survival."
Even more frightening is the fact that most of the data used in these studies and reports was collected before the worldwide fracking insanity really started to gain momentum. Fracking is about the most suicidal thing humans have come up with so far. The next couple Mud Reports will focus on how fracked gas actually is the dirtiest GHG polluter because of the widespread methane leakage and why the various governments refuse to look into the facts being exposed almost everyday by new scientific reports.
Fracked Gas is a 8 lane bridge to environmental hell.