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How fracking impacts water quantity downstream in areas used for drinking water and recreation

A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, highlights the potential effects of fracking on the streams in Arkansas, where millions of gallons of water were pumped through fracking techniques that greatly diminished water quantity.

  • The study aims to further investigate the effects of fracking methods on streams around the Fayetteville Shale play, an active gas field in Arkansas where more than 5,000 gas wells were drilled using fracking techniques between 2004 and 2014.
  • Five million gallons of freshwater were used to fracture just one gas well over a two-to-five-day period, which depleted water levels in up to 51 percent of the streams in Arkansas.
  • The sheer volume of the water sourced for fracking creates stress to aquatic species in streams around the Fayetteville Shale play, according to the researchers.
  • These streams particularly house 10 aquatic species whose populations have been declining at a concerning rate.
  • The research team said that fracking methods could potentially be detrimental to aquatic species in seven to 51 percent of the catchments from June to November, respectively.
  • These streams supply drinking water and provide water sources to recreational areas for thousands of people in the region.

The researchers posit that fracking methods, as well as living near oil or gas fracking sites, may significantly impact both aquatic environments and human settlements.

Journal Reference:

Entrekin S, Trainor A, Saiers J, Patterson L, Maloney K, Fargione J, Kiesecker J, Baruch-Mordo S, Konschnik K, Wiseman H, et al. WATER STRESS FROM HIGH-VOLUME HYDRAULIC FRACTURING POTENTIALLY THREATENS AQUATIC BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN ARKANSAS, UNITED STATES. Environmental Science & Technology. 2018;52(4):2349–2358. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b03304

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