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Fracking is depleting water supplies in America's driest areas

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Sunday 9th of February 2014 5:26 PM

America's oil and gas rush is depleting water supplies in the driest and most drought-prone areas of the country, from Texas to California, new research has found.

Of the nearly 40,000 oil and gas wells drilled since 2011, three-quarters were located in areas where water is scarce, and 55% were in areas experiencing drought, the report by the Ceres Investor Network found.

Fracking those wells used 97 billion gallons of water. Without new tougher regulations on water use, Mindy Lubber, president of the Ceres green investors' network, warned industry could be on a "collision course" with other water users. It can take millions of gallons of fresh water to frack a single well, and much of the drilling is tightly concentrated in areas where water is in chronically short supply, or where there have been multi-year droughts.

Half of the 97 billion gallons of water was used to frack wells in Texas, which has experienced severe drought for years. Farming and cities are still the biggest users of water, the report found. But it warned the added demand for fracking in the Eagle Ford shale, at the heart of the Texas oil and gas rush, was hitting small, rural communities hard. Local aquifer levels in the Eagle Ford formation have dropped by up to 300ft over the last few years. A number of small communities in Texas oil and gas country have already run out of water or are in danger of running out of water in days.

Some oil and gas producers were beginning to recycle water, especially in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, the report said. But it said those savings were too little to offset the huge demand for water for fracking in the coming years.

Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian News, Wed Feb 5 2014,
Post updated at Wednesday 19th of February 2014 4:12:33 PM.