Fracking companies used 770 percent more water per well in 2016 than in 2011 across all the United States’ major gas- and oil-producing regions, according to a new study.
The number of new fracking wells decreased as gas prices fell, but the amount of water used per well skyrocketed, with up to 1,440 percent more toxic wastewater generated in the first year of each new well’s production period by 2016.
The research, published Wednesday afternoon in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, raises new concerns that hydraulic fracturing, the controversial drilling technique used to extract oil and gas trapped deep in bedrock, imperils vital drinking water reserves.
In regions where the warming climate is drying sources of fresh water, fracking intensifies pressure on an already-strained system while increasing the availability of fuels that cause emissions, speeding up the rise in temperatures.
Fracking also produces huge volumes of wastewater laced with cancer-causing chemicals, salts and naturally-occurring radioactive material that can cause earthquakes and contaminate aquifers when pumped underground.