Fracking Wastes 5 Million Gallons of Water Per Well, Study Finds

February 2, 2018 at 4:56 pm




In the middle of a global water crisis, we are permanently contaminating 5 million gallons each time we frack a well. The water is so toxic after it gets injected deep underground afterward, where it causes earthquakes.

Open pit storage of toxic flow-back water near well in Pennsylvania. Credit: Paulio Shakespeare, warights.org

Hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas has raised serious concerns about water quality, but a new study indicates the practice also has an alarming impact on water quantity.




Fracking is dangerously depleting water levels in Arkansas streams, which provide drinking water for thousands of people and habitat to 10 rapidly declining aquatic species, a study published Wednesday says.

More than 5,000 gas wells have been fracked in Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale play in the last 15 years, using water primarily from dammed streams.

The study, published by the American Chemical Society, found that each well uses approximately 5 million gallons of freshwater over the 2-to-5-day period it takes to frack it — a process that involves pumping water, sand and chemicals deep underground to fracture rock formations to release natural gas and petroleum.

“That’s more than enough to fill seven Olympic-size swimming pools,” said lead author Sally Entrekin, a biologist at University of Central Arkansas, in a press release.

Draining 5 million gallons from a small stream in just a few days during a dry summer is likely to have a significant impact on stream temperatures and flow affecting fish, mussels and aquatic insects, the release said.

The streams in the area studied supply drinking water to thousands of people and are home to 10 aquatic species that are declining at a concerning rate.

Some of this wastewater is reused to frack other wells, but most of the contaminated water is pumped and stored deep underground, where it has been linked to a wave of earthquakes that have rocked the state since 2010.

The researchers suggested the problem could lessened, but not elimintated, by recycling 100 percent of the wastewater. They say more research is needed to determine how much water can sustainably be removed from the streams.