Marcellus shale fracking uses 4.5 to 5.6 gallons of fresh water per well — water lost for drinking. (Grist.org) And there are approximately 82,000 wells operating nationally, according to a recent article in the Huffington Post. According to the article in the Huffington Post, U.S. fracking operations produced an estimated 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater in 2012,”enough to flood all of Washington, D.C. in a ’22-foot deep toxic lagoon.'” The saddest part of this is that this wastewater is not recoverable as drinking water. No U.S. purification plants are equipped to remove the hundreds of highly toxic chemicals which are used in fracking operations.
In the Feb. 2014 edition of Truthout, William Rivers Pitt writes in “Diary of a Country Dying” that the areas most affected by the California drought are those where the oil and gas companies have been using up the fresh water supply. I hope you will read the whole article, full of eye-opening facts about the horrific things being done to this beautiful country of ours.
America’s oil and gas rush is depleting water supplies in the driest and most drought-prone areas of the country, from Texas to California, new research has found. Of the nearly 40,000 oil and gas wells drilled since 2011, three-quarters were located in areas where water is scarce, and 55% were in areas experiencing drought, the report by the Ceres investor network found. Fracking those wells used 97 billion gallons of water, raising new concerns about unforeseen costs of America’s energy rush. It can take millions of gallons of fresh water to frack a single well, and much of the drilling is tightly concentrated in areas where water is in chronically short supply, or where there have been multi-year droughts. In California, where a drought emergency was declared last month, 96% of new oil and gas wells were located in areas where there was already fierce competition for water. The pattern holds for other regions caught up in the oil and gas rush. Most of the wells in New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming were also located in areas of high water stress, the report said.
Pitt’s article also tells of the 82,000 gallon coal ash spill into the Dan River, a drinking source for that region of North Carolina, poisoning 27 million gallons of water with heavy metals and other toxins. The spill went unreported for 24 hours, until a security guard noticed an unusually low level of water in the basin where the discharge is stored.
It’s time we abandoned carbon-sourced energy in favor of all-out production of sustainable, renewable energy resources. If we put as much energy into research and production of solar and other sustainable energies as we put into protection of oil and gas interests, we’d be well on our way to preserving our water supplies and our environment.