Fracking's not quite the very devil environmentalists claim it is. Credit, US EPA, public domain

It’s clearly difficult to keep the population suitably alarmed year after year, decade after generation. Because that environmental collapse never actually does turn up. All of which gives people like Joe Romm a bit of a problem. Rather minor matters need to be bigged up to make a claim that but, tomorrow, tomorrow it’s going to be different! Such is the case with this worry about the water usage of fracking. We’re really heading for a disaster now folks!

Fracking is destroying U.S. water supply, warns shocking new study

Destroying note, really destroying!

Toxic wastewater from fracking jumps 14-fold from 2011 to 2016 — and it may get 50 times bigger by 2030.

How will the babbies survive in this arid desert we are building?

An alarming new study reveals fracking is quite simply destroying America’s water supply.

Gosh!

Ingraffea, who was not involved in the study, explained that while first generation wells used 3 to 5 millions gallons of water, current third generation wells use 10 to 30 million gallons. Ingraffea — who worked with the fossil fuel industry for three decades and has been co-editor-in-chief of the journal Engineering Fracture Mechanics since 2005 — noted that the federal government “forecasts a million more such wells in the next 20 years.”

That would mean trillions of gallons of water used.

Ahh, some numbers. We can work with those. So, a million wells over 20 years is 50,000 a year. Each uses, at maximum, 30 million gallons of water. That’s 1.5 trillion gallons a year to be used for fracking.

Is that a lot? No, I didn’t know either, not until I looked it up. The sort of volume of water that’s lying around and available, the gross amount we use perhaps, that’s not something most of us have at our fingertips. The answer is, the amount we use:

In 2010, about 355,000 million gallons per day (Mgal/d),

Oh. So fracking will, in this extreme vision granted to us by Romm, use perhaps 4 days supply of the water that American currently uses. This is to destroy the water supply system? But wait, there’s more!

In 2010, more surface water than groundwater was withdrawn for all uses except domestic, livestock, and mining. Thermoelectric power accounted for 51 percent of the total fresh surface-water withdrawals and irrigation accounted for 29 percent.

Or, perhaps, 8 to 10 days worth of the water we already use in our power systems anyway.

So, fracking might use some 1% or so of the amount of water we already use, might be some 2% or possibly even 3% of the water we already use in the power generation system. This isn’t destruction nor is it a disaster.

Oh, and:

Total water withdrawals for the United States, 1950-2010
(Data are in billion gallons per day (Bgal/d))
1990 1995 2000 2005 2010
Fresh 335 337 349 349 306
Saline 68.3 60.8 63.5 60.9 48.3
Total 403 398 416 410 355

Err, water usage has been falling as fracking has grown recently.

And do note, this is before we even start to think about how much water there is out there that we’re not using already…..

Oh well, shouldn’t be too hard on Joe Romm, eh? No one ever made a good living as a propagandist by understating matters, did they. Nor, actually, by revealing reality to people, that’s not what propaganda is.

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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

Where does it go? Is it thrown away? Where? Is it allowed to contaminate the sea? Maybe they split it into H2 and O and sell it?

Spike
Member

Well, it goes into the ground, to displace the stuff we want to get out of the ground. And far below the water we pump out of the ground to drink, except of course in that movie where the kitchen faucets dispensed death. Fracking-water is “toxic” in the sense that we can’t drink it. Most of the stuff at that depth, most of the earth, is toxic, except where there is a Superfund site where the government has forced current and former land owners to remediate it to make the dirt edible.