The FreshWater Accountability Project (FWAP) focuses on frackings impacts on water supplies. When Ted Auch and Danny Berghoff of the FracTracker Alliance issued a report that estimates a whopping 5.8 billion gallons of freshwater used for fracking per year, it has us asking the question: What the frack are we thinking?

Bob Downing from the Akron Beacon Journal reports:

“Within five years, Ohio drillers might require between 8.7 billion gallons and 16.9 billion gallons of water per year, the report says. Those figures assume the state will approve 25 to 49 new Utica Shale permits monthly over that time.”

Are we going to allow this to continue?

FWAP recognizes that fracking is not the only industrial practice that uses copious amounts of freshwater. As the Akron Beacon Journal also reports:

Overall, Ohio typically uses 8.7 billion gallons per day from surface and underground supplies for drinking water and all other uses, according to state data. Electric power plants are the biggest users, consuming 6.5 billion gallons daily. That means that Ohio uses about 31.75 trillion gallons of water per year.

Energy In Depth (EID), a pro-drilling group, are quoted in the Beacon Journal article providing some hasty generalizations:

“A 2-inch rainfall in Carroll County alone will produce 13.9 billion gallons of water, he said. That is enough water to frack more than 2,400 wells.

What the drillers use in Ohio water is “really a drop in the bucket, pun intended,” Bennett said.”

According to our friends at Frack The Media this is called a hasty generalization, a fallacy:

Hasty Generalization: Drawing a conclusion from insufficient evidence.

Example: “Data shows that X well did not leak or contaminate water, therefore fracking is safe.”

Pretending that EID is correct and a single rainfall in Carroll County produces 13.9 billion gallons of water, the fracking industry should be able to take a significant amount of it? Did the folks at EID forget how our water cycle works?

When water is used for industrial purposes like fracking, it can never return to the water table. Even if a state does produce a substantial amount of water: is water something we should be taking for granted and treating as a commodity for an industry that puts water supplies at risk in so many different ways?

water cycle

Photo Credit: USGS

With droughts across the world and across the country, humans will need access to freshwater sources. If Ohio is fortunate to have an abundance: isn’t that an investment worth protecting?

Human Water Use Compared to Fracking Water Use

Another important piece of Auch’s analysis reveals that a single fractured well uses as much water as 48-four person households use in one year.

Auch’s assessment covers 365 horizontal wells in Ohio from third-quarter 2011 through the end of 2013. The average Utica shale well in Ohio required about 5.1 million gallons of water to be fracked, he said.

Fracking water consumption, put into perspective: a lot more than a drop in the bucket.


Update: Someone responded to my previous post asking if I could include a more detailed description of the previous graph. Added recycled and freshwater trend as well. But you should basically disregard the early 16% recycled water average as it is an average of very few data and really industry is sticking around 7.17-7.27% recycled water although as the average per well number is increasing recycled water in real terms is actually declining given that is a relatively static % of a number that is growing much larger than recycling. Freshwater is increasing by 2.31 million gallons while recycled water is increasing by 6,798 gallons.


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