Water Use for Hydraulic Fracturing: A Texas Sized Problem?

Texas A&M, Bush School of Public Policy, Mosbacher Institute

[KBTX] A new economic and policy analysis concludes that the hydraulic fracturing (HF) or “fracking” being done in Texas is adding to the state’s overuse of its water resources, but is only part of the state’s water problem…

The Bush School study confirmed that within the Eagle Ford Shale, fresh groundwater aquifers are overdrawn annually at 2.5 times their recharge rate. While HF operations are the third largest uses of groundwater in the area, irrigation alone exceeds the recharge rate by more than 50 percent. The 2012 state water plan estimated that Texas could face a shortfall of 2.7 trillion gallons of water a year by 2060. Filling that gap would require an estimated $53 billion in new infrastructure, of which only $2 billion has been allocated.

The team has several recommendations to encourage reductions in HF water use, including economic incentives for companies to use brackish instead of fresh groundwater, and giving these companies recognition for their actions with a “Green Star” rating from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. They also emphasize that accurate data reporting on all water consumption in the state is essential so that inefficient water use practices in all areas—irrigation, municipal use, mining, etc.—can be identified and remedied. They conclude that without broad water regulation efforts, the state will continue to suffer from overuse of water, which they consider its most precious resource.


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