1. FRESH WATER AQUISITION

fracking

1. FRESH WATER ACQUISITION

99% of fracturing fluid is fresh water, making it the most immediately impacted resource

Large volumes of water are withdrawn from ground water and surface
water
resources to be used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

    Ground water is the supply of
    fresh water found beneath the Earth’s surface,
    usually in aquifers, which supply wells and
    springs. It provides a major source of drinking
    water.
    Surface water resources include
    any water naturally open to the atmosphere, such
    as rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams,
    impoundments, seas, estuaries, etc. It provides a
    major source of drinking water.

-EPA.gov

HOW MUCH WATER IS USED?

“fifty thousand to 350,000 gallons of water may be required to fracture one well in a coal bed
while two to five million gallons of water may be necessary to fracture one
horizontal well in a shale formation.”-EPA.gov
“The 5 million gallons of water needed to drill and fracture a typical deep
shale gas or oil well is equivalent to the amount of water consumed by:

    *New York City in approximately 6.3 minutes
    *A 1,000 megawatt coal-fired power plant in 10.8 hours
    *A golf course in 22.5 days
    *6.75 acres of corn in a season”-Hydraulicfracturing.com

​​

    “According to a report developed for the Department of Energy by ALL Consulting, “Estimates
    of peak drilling activity in New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia indicate that maximum
    water use in the Marcellus, at the peak of production for each state, assuming 5 million
    gallons of water per well, would be about 650 million barrels per year. This represents less
    than 0.8 percent of the 85 billion barrels per year used in the area overlying the Marcellus
    Shale in New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.” -fracfocus.org

WATER USAGE: SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

“Freshwater is the most important resource for mankind, cross-cutting all social, economic and
environmental activities. It is a condition for all life on our planet, an enabling or limiting
factor for any social and technological development, a possible source of welfare or misery,
cooperation or conflict.” -UNESCO.org

SCARCITY OF A PRECIOUS RESOURCE

From FAOWater:

    “Freshwater makes up a very small fraction of all water on the planet. While nearly 70 percent
    of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and
    ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it
    trapped in glaciers and snowfields. In essence, only 0.007 percent of the planet’s
    water is available to fuel and feed its 6.8 billion people
    .” -National Geographic

    “Water scarcity already affects every continent. Around 1.2 billion people, or almost
    one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of physical scarcity, and
    500 million people are approaching this situation. Another 1.6 billion people, or almost
    one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage (where
    countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers).” -UN.org

REMOVAL FROM THE WATER CYCLE

The biggest concern regarding water usage in the hydraulic fracturing process stems
around it’s complete removal from the fresh water cycle.

What is the water cycle? As any third grader can tell you, our fresh water
completes a cycle of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation:

NASA.gov

NASA.gov

From FAOWater:

Water which is used in hydraulic fracturing is mixed with toxic chemicals (no.2) which are
hazardous to human, animal, and plant life and therefore cannot safely be reintroduced into the
water supply. The used fracturing water must be stored (no.5) indefinitely, or disposed of deep
underground; thus it is eliminated from the water cycle. Mining, oil, and gas industries use
only about 1%
of the precious fresh water supply, however removal of this water over time
will accumulate and burden an already scarce resource.

    Due to it’s removal from the water cycle, what is 1% or 0.8% today will be greater tomorrow
    as the pool of water we draw from gradually shrinks.

POLICY AND REGULATION

It is important to acknowledge that all water is part of a common cycle. This means, when large
amounts of water are withdrawn from community watershed, it directly affects the entire
community’s water supply. One of the biggest frustrations regarding the acquisition of water
for fracking is the ambiguity and lack of regulation. Hydraulic fracturing is a relatively
new process, and policy has been slow to define it.

    DRILL OR EXPLORE?
    Water withdrawal policy tends to differ depending on whether an industry is seeking a permit to
    drill or to explore. Fracking can be classified as either/or because the exploration
    process requires drilling; and drilling involves simultaneous exploration. Some permits
    allow them to pump as much groundwater as they want.

COMMUNITY CONSULTATION

When governments issue permits to fracking companies, they may have little to no
obligation to consult with the people and/or neighboring communities before tapping into a
shared watershed. This can be particularly frustrating for indigenous tribes and minorities who
share resources with federal powers either by treaty, right, or tradition.

    Environment Canada’s [fracking] review relies on industry organizations for information on
    fracking chemicals and fails to commit to any consultation with Indigenous communities or
    municipalities on what their experiences with fracking have been. The federal government’s
    review should be independent of industry. And communities hold invaluable information on the
    impacts of fracking.
    ” -Council of Canadians SOURCE

    It’s up to the federal government to uphold their treaty and trust obligations to us. And
    while they have obligations and responsibilities to the state and to industry, we’re the only
    ones who have that treaty and trust relationship.
    ” -Wes Martel, a member of the Eastern
    Shoshone Business Council SOURCE

CASE STUDY: SOUTH AFRICA KAROO, COMMUNITY CONCERNS VS LAWS

[Excerpts from ‘Fracking and the Democratic Deficit in South Africa‘ by David Fig]

    “Under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002, the regulator first
    allocates a technical co-operation permit. This gives the applicant a year in which to conduct
    desk-top studies on the feasibility of extracting the shale gas, and an exclusive right to
    apply for an exploration right. If successful, the applicant can undertake exploration for
    three years, renewable for another six years. During that time, if the deposits of gas are
    found to be economically viable, the company can apply for an exclusive production right
    lasting 30 years, which is also renewable.

    The regulator does not hold open hearings in granting these rights. The only way in which the
    public can intervene is when the company applies for an exploration right. To do so, the
    company must hire consultants to produce an Environmental Management Report (EMR). It needs to
    release the EMR to those registered as interested and affected parties, hold public meetings,
    and allow time for the public to make comments on the report. Since the exploration rights are
    often, in South African practice, converted almost automatically to production rights, this is
    one of the very few occasions in which the public has any voice in the process.

    Fracking is a controversial new technology, for which almost no research has been undertaken in
    South Africa. In order for companies to find out how large the resource is, and whether it is
    worth exploiting, fracking has to be undertaken during the exploration phase. Therefore giving
    permission to explore, in effect means that government would be allowing fracking to take place
    immediately. It is unlikely that the effects of fracking would ever be reversed once it has
    started taking place.
    […]

    In many of the fracking areas of the United States, such as the Marcellus Shale area of
    Pennsylvania, water is plentiful. Not so in the shale fields of the Karoo, one of South Africa’s
    most arid areas
    . Life in the Karoo depends on access to groundwater from underground aquifers
    or chambers containing fresh water which is replenished by the infrequent rains. The Karoo is
    characterised by its extensive sheep, ostrich and, increasingly, game farming, with steel wind
    pumps drawing up the groundwater for animal and human consumption. Surface dams or reservoirs
    provide the rest of the area’s water requirements, but these can be unreliable. (For example,
    in recent years the dams in the Beaufort West area dried up, causing a water crisis in the
    town. Travellers passing through it were asked to donate bottled water to help alleviate the
    problem.)

    Most of South Africa’s surface fresh water (98%) has already been allocated to existing users.
    This raises the question of how the fracking industry will source the millions of litres it
    will need to undertake its operations. It has been calculated that 20-25 million litres may be
    needed to frack a single well. This would require transportation of water by at least 1 667
    trucks per well and possibly the building of expensive pipelines and desalination plants. Shell
    and other companies have failed to announce from where this large quantity of water will be
    drawn. Shell has, however, undertaken not to draw it from the Karoo, but some hydrologists
    have recommended that it be sourced from the already overstretched Gariep (formerly Orange)
    catchment.

    Around 30 per cent of the water used in the process will be unrecoverable and will remain
    underground. This subtracts it from the water that might be recycled.
    […]
    There is no specific law regulating the use or protection of underground water, and
    certainly no law specifically pertaining to the use of fracking as a technology.”

TEXAS: TECHNICAL DEFINITIONS AND PROBLEMS WITH POLICY AND REGULATION

[Excerpt from ‘Ambiguities Persist in Regulating Water Withdrawals for Fracking’ by Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune]

    “In Karnes County, at the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale, oil and gas drillers seeking to use
    water for hydraulic fracturing must get a permit from the local groundwater authority. They can
    pump only a certain amount of water, and they must report how much they use.

    In Dimmit County, another Eagle Ford Shale drilling hotbed, drillers can pump as much water as
    they want — and no permit is required.

    This tale of two counties reflects the ambiguity in state rules regarding
    groundwater for fracking. Texas’ water code was written well before the spread of fracking,
    which involves sending millions of gallons of water (along with sand and chemicals) down a well
    to rupture hard rock that contains oil or gas. As a result, some groundwater authorities
    require companies using water for fracking to obtain a permit, while others do not.

    The groundwater groups want legislators to clarify the regulations so that they can understand
    the amount of water being pumped from aquifers in their area for fracking, and potentially put
    limits on the volumes being pumped.

    Interpretation of the law “depends on which lawyer you talk to,” said Slate Williams, general
    manager of the Crockett County Groundwater Conservation District in West Texas. His district
    does not require a permit for water wells used for fracking. It does ask drillers to report the
    amount of water they withdraw monthly.

    “They don’t always do that, but it’s something we ask,” Williams said.

    The confusion among groundwater districts stems from a provision in the Texas water code that
    states that a groundwater district cannot require a permit if the well is drilled to supply
    water for a rig doing “drilling or exploration operations” for an oil or gas well.

    Traditionally, “drilling or exploration” has meant processes like mixing water with clay and
    other materials to make mud that makes it easier to drill. But the question that groundwater
    districts are struggling with is this: Is fracking considered “drilling or
    exploration”?
    Or does fracking count as oil and gas “production,” in which case the
    groundwater districts can require a permit?

    Groundwater permits can stipulate limits on the amount of water pumped, and limits on the time
    frame within which a water well may be used. Large farmers and cities must get permits to use
    groundwater. The use of water for petroleum drilling and exploration is one of three explicit
    exemptions to the permitting requirement. (The other two are surface mining, and homesteads of
    more than 10 acres that need a modest amount of water for home use and livestock.)

    Several bills filed in the Legislature this session seek to resolve the confusion, which has
    become more pressing as water use for fracking has soared. It more than doubled between 2008
    and 2011. In 2011, fracking still accounted for less than 1 percent of the state’s overall
    water usage, a widely cited study says. But in some rural areas like Dimmit County, the
    percentage of water going to fracking has reached the double digits.”

2. CHEMICAL MIXING>>>>>>

<<<<CONTENTS

_______________________________________________________________________________________________
WATER SUSTAINABILITY
http://www.unwater.org/ (UN water)
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/water/ (UNESCO water)
http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/index.shtml (Water for Life 2005-2015)
http://www.fao.org/nr/water/ (FAO water)

FRESH WATER CYCLES
http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/ (National Geographic)
http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle.html (USGS)
http://pmm.nasa.gov/education/water-cycle (NASA)

FRACKING WATER IMPACT
http://www.cleanwateraction.org/page/fracking-dangers (dangers)
http://fracfocus.org/water-protection/hydraulic-fracturing-usage (water usage)

FRACKING WATER REGULATION
http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/class2/hydraulicfracturing/wells_hydroreg.cfm (EPA)
http://cleanwater.org/page/fracking-laws-and-loopholes (loopholes)
http://www.ncsl.org/research/energy/fracking-update-what-states-are-doing.aspx (State policy)

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