Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Mapped: Disposal Wells in Texas

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.

You can learn more about disposal wells here, and view this map on the Texas Tribune here.


  • GeoPG

    The amount of water used to hydraulic frac a well is minuscule compared to the amount of water that a well produces naturally. For every gallon of oil produced, the same well will produce about 7 gallons of water or more depending on the locality.

  • the_user

    but water used for fracking is potential drinking water whereas deep underground water mixed with oil & gas residuals is definitely not drinking water – thought about that? use your resources responsibly

  • Datalas

    Is there any site that is automatically updated with current data, this map is old and I can’t find current content on this topic.

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