Fracking could limit water, study says, Fracking Is Draining Western Water

Fracking could limit water, study says by Jerry Burnes, April 26, 2013, Williston Herald
Water in North Dakota is going to dry up. That’s the message the Western Organization of Resource Councils sent Thursday when releasing its report, Gone for Good: Fracking and Water Loss in the West. Resource council members from North Dakota, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming held a conference call to go over the study, which highlighted the amount of water used for hydraulic fracturing in a part of the country where the group said water was already low in supply.

“This water, once it’s used, is gone for good,” said Pat Wilson of the Northern Plains Resource Council in Montanta. “It is subtracted from the hydrologic cycle, never to be returned.” Theodora Bird Bear of the Dakota Resource Council said the Missouri River is the primary source of drinking water on the Fort Berthold Reservation and no state, federal or tribal industry has been measuring how much water has been used. She said a combination of shorter winters, dryer summers and less snow melting into the Missouri River has caused less water and may play a factor in climate change and global warming. “Ground water is a limited source in our arid, dry land in North Dakota counties,” Bird Bear said.

While the members discussed the limitations of water in their states, solutions to the fracking-water problem were few.

Robert LeResche of the Powder River Basin Resource Council in Wyoming said controlling and limiting fracking water is a state issue and not something that should be regulated by the federal government. His group has sent a seven-point plan to the Wyoming Legislature on how it can save water in the drilling process. “Water law is a creature of the states,” he said. Bird Bear said she wants federal government involvement because the reservation is based on federal and tribal laws. She said the Environmental Protection Agency has been focused on giving water quality estimates and nothing on water quantity.

They said with tens of thousands of wells being drilled each year, with no surcharge for exporting, the water usage is becoming a “serious problem” and shows the “dark sides” of the new oil and gas extraction methods. “They are threatening to suck us dry of very limited resources out west,” [Emphasis added]

Fracking Is Draining Western Water, Says Regional Group, States Must Take Lead to Make Sure Water Isn’t “Gone for Good” Press Release by the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), April 25, 2013
Oil and gas extraction practices are permanently removing at least seven billion gallons of water from the hydrologic cycle each year in just four arid western states, according to a new report, Gone for Good, published today by the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC). The reason for the huge loss of water is that states have failed to place adequate protections on the use and contamination of fresh water in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the technology that has allowed the oil and gas industry to extract oil and gas from shale formations, such as the Bakken field in North Dakota and Montana.

“Fracking’s growing demand for water can threaten availability of water for agriculture and Western rural communities,” said Bob LeResche, Clearmont, Wyoming, of WORC’s Board of Directors and the Powder River Basin Resource Council. The Bakken pulled North Dakota from ninth to second in oil production in just a few years, but one of the costs of fracking is at least four billion gallons of water removed from the hydrological cycle in the past year. “We need to conserve water for the next generation, and the one after that,” said Theodora Bird Bear, a Board member of Dakota Resource Council, who is a Three Affiliated Tribes member and a resident of Fort Berthold Reservation. “That means reducing the amount of water used for oil drilling, or finding ways to purify and recycle it.” The report analyzes water withdrawals and state oversight of water use for fracking in four states where member groups of WORC are active: North Dakota (Dakota Resource Council); Montana (Northern Plains Resource Council); Wyoming (Powder River Basin Resource Council); and Colorado (Western Colorado Congress).

LeResche said coalbed methane (CBM) production has already compromised Wyoming’s groundwater quantity. “A study by the Wyoming State Engineer found that the Fort Union aquifer has dropped as much as 625 feet since 1997 due, in large part, to extraction and disposal of groundwater used for CBM production,” LeResche said. “It would take 50,000 years to replenish the aquifer.”

In the absence of federal laws, states play the key role in regulating and monitoring oil and gas drilling, including water use. “There’s been a lot of debate over fracking and pollution, but little notice of what in the long term may be an even more serious threat,” LeResche said. … “Colorado already has competition for water. We can’t create more water. Removing water from the hydrological system is unwise,” said Bob Arrington, a retired engineer from Mesa Battlement, Colo., and member of the Western Colorado Congress. It also found that the four state agencies have “continued to emphasize permitting new wells over regulation” and “have often joined the industry in an effort to downplay the impacts of oil and gas extraction.”

Gone for Good [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Marcellus Watch: Judge’s ruling protects Corning aquifer April 1, 2013, Corning Leader While the craven New York State Legislature has been AWOL on vital gas drilling issues for years, state court judges, fortunately, have been quietly doing their job. Last week a state Supreme Court judge in Rochester smacked down efforts by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell to purchase fresh water to frack its Pennsylvania gas wells from the financially down-and-out Village of Painted Post.

AEA: Support to the identification of potential risks for the environment and human health arising from hydrocarbons operations involving hydraulic fracturing in Europe ”A proportion (25% to 100%) of the water used in hydraulic fracturing is not recovered, and consequently this water is lost permanently to re-use, which differs from some other water uses in which water can be recovered and processed for re-use.” [Emphasis added]

A Primer for Understanding Canadian Shale Gas – Energy Briefing Note by National Energy Board, November 2009. “Drilling and hydraulically fracturing wells can be water-intensive procedures; however, there is very limited Canadian experience from which to estimate potential environmental impacts.” ….the rate of development of shale gas may become limited by the availability of required resources, such as fresh water…. ]

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