Energy. Environment. Economy.

How Much Water Does It Take to Frack a Well?

Here’s a graphical view of one of the most controversial aspects of hydraulic fracturing: the enormous amount of water it uses.


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Mine Reclamation Group Seeks Allies in Natural Gas Industry
Pennsylvania DEP Offers Acid Mine Drainage to Drillers


  • TheProspector

    Can you show how much water it takes to keep a golf course green?

    • Surya Gunasekara

      The average American course uses 312,000 gallons per day or 113 million gallons per year.

      • Walker4

        Well, yeah, but the water used for a golf course isn’t poisoning anything.

        • CJ

          But the herbicides and chenmical fertilizers they add to the water for the golf courses end up in the water table.

          • Walker4

            Fair enough– ban them too.

            You know, we can live without gas, and we can live without golf, but we can’t live without water.

          • David Colvin

            CJ, they don’t put that into the water…….added later perhaps

        • Michael

          What about all the fertalizer they use?

        • R. Murray Frith

          Ya, but in drought areas, like Southern Ca, using a lot of water for such things is a big waste…

      • UniverseWeAre

        And water used for Golf goes back into the hydrologic cycle while water used for fracking gets injected deep in the crust of Earth where it will remain outside the hydrologic cycle for centuries.

        Scary as fuck…

      • Julie K. McCarty

        There are 18,514 golf courses in the US. Now, I’m assuming that 113 million gallons per year is an average for a golf course. Multiply that by 18,514 courses… That’s 2 trillion gallons of water per year for all the golf courses in the US.

    • gail zawacki

      We should get rid of gof courses either way. They are toxic to wildlife and a waste of land.

      • David Colvin

        But Privitly owned…..good luck w/that

    • David Colvin

      How many acres, is it in a cool area or the Desert….But at least that water dose something…not really good, but better than fracking!

  • paulroden

    Where is all this water going to come from? Where is all the water going to be stored? Once this water is mixed with the fracking chemicals it can not be filtered or distilled to clean it up. The “flow back” water has heavy metal salts that municipal water treatment facilities can’t filter out. Most municipal water treatment do not have activated charcoal or resin bead filters which are supposedly able to filter out the VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) from the fracking water mix. Injecting these “produced waters” into deep well site cause earthquakes. Drillers are not going to pay for treating these waste waters to be filtered. In PA the DEP can just sign a paper and declare the wastes as having “beneficial use”. Drillers can then sell this “well brine” to companies to sell to DOT and other companies to spray on roads for ice and snow control. This just spreads the wastes, supposedly to “dilute the impact”. This is wrong. Fracking is too dangerous, too expensive and totally unnecessary for our energy needs. Read the November 2009 issue of Scientific American. Jacobson and Delucchi have developed a plan to power the world without fossil fuel or nuclear power, with existing technology by 2030.

    • Bobcat

      If you are so against well Fracturing may I suggest a solution? TURN OFF EVERY LIGHT, CELL PHONE, COMPUTER, VEHICLE, BUS AND BICYCLE YOU OWN OR USE. Yes even your bicycle because fossil fuels were utilized in the manufacture of every single thing you use or consume.

      • C.j.

        What people like you don’t see is that if the cost to have lights, cell phones, computers, vehicles, etc. is that we have to permanently contaminate large amounts of a vital life resource needed for human survival, all while having technology available to produce these same things without the use of said fuels, then the only excuse is corporate greed. You’d rather have Cell Phones over water dude? Really? #OilIndustrySlave

      • Jo Harris

        Hey Bobcat, it is not that we are against oil, “AH”, Use your head. We are in a drought. Maybe we should start doing some of those things U listed. But using what little water there is; will kill us all off. We won’t have to worry about anything. We all know it takes fossil fuel to get what light we use and to manufacturer everything we have. But when there is no more drinkable water, we die. Plain and simple.

  • Liz Rosenbaum

    Often gas wells must be fracked more than once. “Recycling” frack water actually refers to using it for another frack. Once this water is removed from the watershed, it can never be safely returned. Fresh water is a finite resource, yes? Why aren’t we building more solar and wind farms instead?

    • jon

      Wind farms kill birds. plus you have to have batteries to store the power in…So how much damage do we do to the environment making the lead batteries?

      • David Colvin

        You Don’t Get the Tech……A/C Power from “wind-Turbines goes on to the Power Grid…..> That is how the City of Palm Springs CA, and surronding areas gets it’s Power…..

      • Tim Anderson

        Wind farms don’t kill birds at the same rate now. The slower huge blades you see all around the USA now are different than the fast moving blades in the California model of the late 70′s and early 80′s. A thousand birds might be killed at one wind farm over the course of an entire year, now it’s down to less than a dozen. Also, there are no batteries to “store” the power, geesh…there’s a 1.4 megawatt generator that runs right off the blade. Quit listening to conservative tv and radio.

        • Fred JOhnson

          He’s talking about solar, there most certainly ARE batteries associated with a lot of solar panel systems… you store the energy before you use it… when the batteries are full you put the energy you keep producing back onto the grid.

          You are correct about wind not being so bad on birds any more though. Quit thinking you know it all when you can’t even understand what the other person says…

          • R. Murray Frith

            Hid did say wind…

        • Steve LeRoy Moore

          Amost all birds killed by wind farms are birds of prey, the reason for that is birds of prey when hunting lock in on their prey and dive to the kill, if they take their eyes off the prey they will loose site of prey and of course miss it.

      • R. Murray Frith

        Most modern batteries are mainly Lithium, its all relative, but wind is definitely less destructive, n’est pas?

    • David Colvin

      Because of Charles & David Koch & Exxon paid lobiests push back from reality

  • Sarvepalli

    The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.

    • R. Murray Frith

      Nope, but an “undead” fracking wells does…

  • Laguera411

    This man is single handedly responsible for more destruction, pain and suffering FOR PROFIT, than anyone else I can think of. He needs to be stopped!

    • Fred JOhnson

      This man being You? Because I’m pretty sure you use power and gasoline. That means that YOU are part of the problem. We all are, and until people realize this and take responsibility, we will continue on this self-destructive path.

      • ericbwoo

        Right, because anyone who suggests we need alternative energy sources has to go in the dark until that alternative comes, right? What if he/she is active in reducing the amount of gas/energy he’s using in the mean time? Isn’t that part of the transition?

      • R. Murray Frith

        Big dif between being “part of the problem”, and being a big “source of the problem”…

  • R

    Doesn’t Mr. Chaney knows he has done enough damage to Americans already, and to people all over the world! What’s the matter with him, doesn’t he has enough money already?

    • Char Bushor

      Really. He could not give a flying f*%k about any of us.

  • Boriquah Afrikanah

    What about fracking water wells or fracking wells for water?

  • Mike Leiberg

    Pass it keystone XL

  • Michael Parido

    What exactly is meant by “UNCONVENTIONAL shale gas well”? Why is the word “unconventional” used there? Can someone explain that to me please?

    • Susan Phillips

      Michael, unconventional refers to deeper shale gas wells that require slick water hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling. In Pennsylvania, unconventional shale gas development began in 2005. Prior to that, conventional wells were drilled to tap natural gas in shallow deposits.

    • Fred JOhnson
  • Cara Moulton

    Perhaps I’m missing this, but is that 4.4 million gallons the sum water use for a well in its lifetime? Or is it for “two to five days” as the article seems to say? How long do the wells themselves last and what is the maximum water they use? I’m trying to use this info to tell a class, and maybe this is obvious to others but wish it was stated a little more clearly (if anyone knows, wanna fill me in?)- thanks!

    • madisongf

      This is for one fracking but can frack the well again and maybe reuse some of the contaminated water but since we don’t really know what deadly chemicals they are pumping in the ground. Fracking is bad for the environment…we are we all going to say enough is enough…the GREED needs to stop!

  • Blain

    Southeastern Ohio they raped the land by surface coal removal, which completely ruined the top soil, which can only grow ragweed, it’ll take centuries to recover, now they’re going to rape our lakes and streams of it fresh water,in the same area. The impact will be dire. We must stand up now! Fracking is messy, ugly and unsustainable to the environment.

  • John Purvis

    We have 1.1 million gas wells in the US with many of them being fracked more then once. Any way you slice it that’s too much water. They have big plans for fracking and we haven’t seen anything yet. They are building massive capacities to ship Gas and Oil out thru Texas and Louisiana. When they do the prices will rise and the fracking will go into overdrive. We have a few major cities in drought right now and a population that uses water with no thought for conservation. We are going to have to make a decision and soon or we are going to run out of water.

    20 to 25 years is the timeline for the Ogallala aquifer to dry up through the plains and our bread basket. The Ogallala is one of the largest aquifer’s in the world. It spans across parts of 8 states. If it were spread out it would cover all 50 states in 1.5 feet of water, that is when it was full. When this goes dry we won’t be able to grow enough food to feed everyone.
    The bottom line is we have expanded beyond nature’s ability to sustain us, what I want to know is will we humans be smart enough to save our own arse, and if not our own then our kids arse’s..
    It’s time to stop allowing the few to control our government, and our direction. I did say that right didn’t I. It is our government. I think that’s supposed to mean that when they pass laws it’s done for the greater good and not for Exxon’s or any other companies bottom line.
    When a government gives favors to corporations that use large amounts of resources or pollutes the area it’s in, they are fully present when the favors are given but it mostly comes back to the tax payers paying for their mess. We have to stop allowing anyone to use more then they are willing to take responsibility for.
    It’s time for someone to stand up as Kennedy did and say that we choose to develop alternatives by the next decade and back that up with policy and money that will make it happen, political will I think it’s called. We need to get off of oil before it destroys our environment. This has to happen worldwide, but I think America will have to take the lead to get things going in the right direction. We could just do nothing like normal but destroying the future seems like a big deal, and inaction just seems insane, or is that insane greed. Of coarse that’s the few the real question is why do we the many allow them to exploit us? It’s defiantly propaganda and I think some fear, it’s easy to ignore the problem and besides if this were a real problem they’d tell us about it, famous last words.

  • QuentonQuale

    This is very sad. Pennsylvania politicians have embraced fracking for it’s short-term financial payouts at the expense of the long-term health (and survival) of it’s citizens and natural resources.

  • Bobcat

    I guess that would be why Industry leaders are getting away from pure Hydraulic Fracturing and moving toward Nitrogen Fracturing. Get the facts before you begin spouting “facts”. Nitrogen Fracturing needs only a fraction of the water and can usually be recycled.

  • groberts116

    Your ignorant. Give it a rest, you’ve bought into the whole right wing BS: Inequality is good; big government is bad (for big business and the uber wealthy, but that;s not obvious to you); liberals are all socialists; and big corporations are job providers. The list is longer, but enough said.The important thing to realize is that the conservative and liberal tags are tools used to play Americans. No one really is totally conservative or liberal. I support both conservative issues and liberal issues and for the most part so do most Americans.

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