Map by Ryan Murphy, Texas Tribune
As the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has rapidly spread across Texas, so has the demand for disposal wells, where wastewater from oil and gas drilling is sent deep underground. In this new interactive map from Ryan Murphy of the Texas Tribune, you can see where more than 7,000 disposal wells are in Texas.
The wastewater from drilling consists of both the fluid used in fracking, as well as water that has been waiting underground with the oil and gas. It’s cheapest for drillers to use disposal wells to get rid of it, but Texas regulators are trying to encourage more recycling of wastewater. The wells have resulted in more truck traffic and some incidents of spills and contamination, and the amount of wastewater being disposed has risen dramatically, to nearly 3.5 billion barrels in 2011 from 46 million barrels in 2005.