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Water Scarcity Shines Spotlight on the Fracking Industry

Posted by Neno Duplan

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has released a report that highlights the potential for water scarcity to put a halt on fracking among the world’s top 20 shale countries.

In one of these countries—the United States—fracking has been used for years. However, new technology has enabled companies to drill deeper and horizontally, allowing fracking in more populated areas than ever before. These modern fracking techniques require millions more gallons per well of water, resulting in millions more gallons of contaminated wastewater. This increased amount of water usage results in two major causes for concern: water scarcity, and groundwater contamination.

Adding to this concern, the WRI report states that 38 percent of the world’s shale resources are found in areas that are water barren or “under high to extremely high levels of water stress”, and 40 percent of countries with the largest shale reserves have severely limited freshwater sources. With the spotlight being shined brighter than ever on fracking’s relationship with water, the WRI has compiled a list of actions for these operations to take in order to help preserve the integrity of water supplies. The list is made up of four recommendations.

First, the WRI suggests conducting water risk assessments to understand local water availability and reduce business risk. Next, increase transparency and engage with local regulators, communities, and industry to minimize uncertainty and ensure adequate water governance to guarantee the security of the water and reduce risks. The last action the WRI recommends is minimizing freshwater use and engaging in corporate water stewardship to reduce impacts on water availability.

Current findings and water shortages suggest an urgent need for improved monitoring and transparency for operations within the fracking industry. Using a centralized system for managing crucial fracking information can increase transparency, improve compliance with current regulations, and better protect the quality and quantity of the world’s water supplies.

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