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Escalating Water Strains In Fracking Regions

It’s bad enough that Western farmers and ranchers are reeling from a three-year-old drought and record heat waves. Now they’re feeling the heat from the goliath energy industry – over water.

From Texas to Colorado, hydraulic fracturing energy production is using larger amounts of water. So much that farmers and other major users are getting increasingly nervous about running out of the precious resource, especially as more people move to these states.

In drought-ravaged Texas, fracturing-related water use has doubled in three years, while dozens of communities are imposing water-use restrictions. In Colorado and North Dakota, energy companies are paying exorbitant money – up to 10 times more than farmers typically pay – to secure increasingly scarce municipal water.

And, with populations and energy production projected to grow sharply in the coming years, these competitive pressures are likely to worsen, especially if tighter water management measures for the industry are not put into place. A new federal study showing rapid depletion of underground water supplies in some of these same regions only adds to the urgency.

Shale energy production is a thirsty business.

To free up the oil and gas from shale deposits, anywhere from two to 10 million gallons of water (along with sand and chemicals) are injected into each fracturing well. Multiply that times tens of thousands of wells and you’re talking lots of water. The impacts are even worse when wells are tightly concentrated.

Read the full article at Forbes

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