Report: Energy production threatens to strain nation’s water supply

Report: Energy production threatens to strain nation’s water supply by Zack Colman, October 17, 2012, The
The federal government must better monitor the nation’s water supply as expanded domestic energy production threatens to further strain water resources, warns a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Tuesday. With an earlier Congressional Research Service study projecting the energy sector to account for 85 percent of the growth in domestic water consumption between 2005 and 2030, the GAO report says the federal government must improve oversight on the nexus between water and energy. The report calls for the Energy Department to institute an oversight program to evaluate water availability and use by energy producers. It notes the Energy Policy Act of 2005 required the department to implement a similar program, but has so far failed to do so.

Those developments — and, in particular, the fracking boom — combined with the past summer’s drought have led to water shortages across the country. That forced water auction prices higher, with energy companies outbidding farmers who traditionally had little problem securing water through that avenue. On the other hand, many energy firms could not find enough water to continue fracking.

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