EPA Releases Final Hydraulic Fracturing Report on Impacts to Drinking Water

hydraulic-fracturingEPA has just released its final report entitled, “Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States.” The report concludes that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances and identifies factors that influence these impacts. As part of the report, EPA identified conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe including:

• Water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing in times or areas of low water availability, particularly in areas with limited or declining groundwater resources;
• Spills during the management of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals or produced water that result in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources;
• Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater resources;
• Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources;
• Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water resources; and
• Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits, resulting in contamination of groundwater resources.

A broad stakeholder engagement process helped to ensure that the final assessment report reflects current practices in hydraulic fracturing and uses all data and information available to the Agency. The report provides valuable information about potential vulnerabilities to drinking water resources, but was not designed to be a list of documented impacts.
For more information and to view the report, visit www.epa.gov/hfstudy.