Water Use for Fracking Varies

On June 30th, the US Geological Survey released new information about water use related to hydraulic fracturing.  The study reports that the amount of water used in the fracking process varies depending on location and type of well.  Water volumes for hydraulic fracturing averaged within watersheds across the United States range from as little as 2,600 gallons to as much as 9.7 million gallons per well.

According to the USGS press release, “From 2000 to 2014, median annual water volume estimates for hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells had increased from about 177,000 gallons per oil and gas well to more than 4 million gallons per oil well and 5.1 million gallons per gas well.  Meanwhile, median water use in vertical and directional wells remained below 671,000 gallons per well.  For comparison, an Olympic-sized swimming pool holds about 660,000 gallons.”  Watersheds where the greatest amount of water was used for fracking include those in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi as well as those found in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations covering parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York.

The USGS Report is entitled “Hydraulic fracturing water use variability in the United States and potential environmental implications,” and has been accepted for publication in Water Resources Research, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.  More information about this study and other USGS energy research can be found at the USGS Energy Resources Program.