Fracking Hasn’t Caused Widespread Drinking Water Impacts, EPA Says

Fracking Water Lifecycle

by | Jun 5, 2015

Fracking Water LifecycleHydraulic fracturing activities in the US have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources, according to an EPA study released yesterday.

However, it finds that there are potential vulnerabilities in the fracking water lifecycle that could impact drinking water.

The assessment, done at the request of Congress, follows the water used for fracking from water acquisition, chemical mixing at the well pad site, well injection of fracking fluids, the collection of hydraulic fracturing wastewater (including flowback and produced water), and wastewater treatment and disposal.

The EPA says these vulnerabilities to drinking water resources include:

  • water withdrawals in areas with low water availability;
  • hydraulic fracturing conducted directly into formations containing drinking water resources;
  • inadequately cased or cemented wells resulting in below ground migration of gases and liquids;
  • inadequately treated wastewater discharged into drinking water resources;
  • and spills of hydraulic fluids and hydraulic fracturing wastewater, including flowback and produced water.

Also released yesterday were nine peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports, a part of the agency’s overall hydraulic fracturing drinking water study and contributed to the findings outlined in the draft assessment. More than 20 peer-reviewed articles or reports were published as part of this study.

As the water footprint created by fracking and directional drilling continues to grow in the US, water management issues are projected to become more challenging.


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