Research points to ways of minimizing frack-water usage

Wetland and a Pipeline
Wetland and a Pipeline, Source: DollarPhotoClub

A new research published by The American Chemical Society points to way of minimizing the amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing.

Water usage is an important point of contention between gas exploration companies and local populace. Well stimulation, otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, requires between 2.5 and 5 million gallons of fresh water per well. This poses a problem even in places abundant in fresh water like the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania; mainly due to large quantities of contaminated ‘produced water’ that needs to be disposed of safely.

In other, more arid, places this level of water use competes with residential and agricultural needs and depletes groundwater resources.

The researchers from The American Chemical Society – a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress – propose methods to minimize the industry’s water footprint.

One option is to use brackish water that is not fit for drinking or agricultural use but can be suitable for fracking. The other method is to recycle the waste water.

“Leadership from both industry and the U.S. government may be needed to assure that economic benefits of shale gas development are realized without significant regional impairment of water resource quantity and quality,” the authors conclude.

The full article appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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