Over the next thirty years, given the present technology, 500 billion gallons of water will be retired underground in Pennsylvania through the process known as horizontal fracturing. This is according to email discussions I have had with Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research
500B is equivalent to 68 Harvey’s Lakes, or 263 Huntsville reservoirs, or 200 Wallenpaupacks (a relatively shallower but more expansive body of water).
This water will no longer be available for human use. It will lurk in the shattered caverns below. This dispersed sea will be waiting for a flaw, a break, an errant burst of pressure…
In a recent email from the Marcellus Shale Coalition titled, In the Know on H20, the industry relates:
Well, consider this: All told, the Susquehanna and its surrounding watershed convey more than 26 billion gallons of water through the Commonwealth every single day.
500B is over nineteen times this amount. Nineteen days of water flow gone forever, Nineteen days of flow, desecrated, banished, and waiting… Can we afford it?
The industry will tell you they are going to develop “better” technology. I question they can do it without water. I will research this more.
I will post the calculations and assumptions and caveats under separate cover.
The 500B could go lower, it could go higher. But I suspect 5ooB is on the low side.
The 500B is Pennsylvania only! What about the amount of water being retired throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Australia, Africa, Asia, and Europe? How many tens of trillions?
Add to this, the global warming trend – and it will be unintentional suicide by corporate paradigm.
>>The industry will tell you they are going to develop “better” technology. I question they can do it without water. I will research this more.<<
Perhaps you've heard about two portable recycling ("evaporator") machines developed by GE and Canadian operation Fountain Quail for onsite recycling so that water can be reused over and over. The GE evaporator is described here:
And here’s a link to the GE page.
The mobile evaporator for flowback water recycling from Fountain Quail (subsidiary of Aqua Pure of Calgary) is already operational in limited form by Devon O&G with several PA customers waiting for machines to be built, while GE’s evaporator seems to be slated to become operational next year. This FQ gadget (like GE machine, fits on a 40 ft flatbed truck) can process 386,400 gallons per day to produce pure distilled “fresh” water and a separate “briny residue.”
Fountain Quail recycling evaporator is described in this news story which sounds like a warmed-over PR release from the company. Try reporter’s phone number at end for more info and Fountain Quail’s direct link.
If these “evaporator” machines work completely self-contained without polluting the air, they could help reduce the amount of water needed to frack each well and reduce the number of truck trips to and fro.
Fracking and other drilling operations will still need a lot of water but not as much if these evaporators work well. Estimate of how many re-visits to water reservoirs will be needed in the life of each frack well is not known.
We cannot depend solely on GE’s and Fountain Quail’s PR, so we’ve asked the EPA (and your readers might do the same) to test this technology as part of their investigation of shale gas drilling impacts, and issue results publicly on how efficiently and cleanly it operates.
The boil-down steam process of both machines is nervous-making. Will aerated residuals be fully captured or will toxic steam be released into the air? How dangerous will it be for workers to work and breathe in spaces exposed to such steam? Danger to workers handling the residue? Etc.
Great website! Proud to be alongside you fighting the good fight.
Dissenta @ Public Comment(http://pubcomm.blogspot.com)
Thank you for the comment! Yes, I have read about this recycling of the flowback water. And I applaud the effort. My skepticism is about their ability to leave less water below. Eighty five percent of the water which goes down stays down.
What “better technology” were you referring to? Yes, Yes, quaze, the water left down below is a very bad problem. In fact, as you know, this is why fracking was exempted from Safe Drinking Water Act because injection of toxins underground and leaving them there would be illegal under SDWA, as I understand it. Wonder if one of the states will bring suit against the EPA (or who would they sue?) to force them (or Congress) to enforce the SDWA. Birds will have teeth now that we have a “new” Congress and Rove’s “climate is dead” rings across the land (where’s Gore?) and the corporate paradigm reigns supreme under Obama. But just wondering if there is legal recourse to get SDWA enforced for fracking.
I have been told the technology might be able to further minimize the water usage.
I believe some individuals and groups have looked at the SDWA angle. Whether or not it was pursued, I don’t know. Perhaps the local Sierra Club would be a resource.
But where are the lawyers?
And the entertainers, and the deep pockets?
It has been difficult to light a fire in the grassroots. They seem to focus on national corporate media wherein they are pretty well mesmerized.
That being said, I understand CSI is showing a fracking episode this evening. I will force myself to watch. (A practice I am engaged in more and more these sad days.)
[…] my recent post, Fracked Dry, I reported that the 200,000 figure was one which was put forth by Penn State as the “high […]