Clean water is a basic human right.
Crony Capitalism gives frackers control of Texas water budget.
Texas Governor Rick Perry is a co-owner of MKS Natural Gas Company. He just appointed Mary Ann Williamson, also a co-owner of MKS Natural Gas Company, to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).
To those who have fought Perry over the years, the relationship with MKS and the Williamsons remains shrouded in mystery, including how Perry landed the stake in the company in the first place. TheDailyBeast.com
This is not the first crony appointment for the Williamson family. Before his death in 2007, Perry appointed Mr. Williamson to the Texas Transportation Commission where he assisted Perry in his failed attempt to put the Trans Texas Corridor through. In 2008 he appointed Mrs. Williamson to the Texas Lottery Commission. Now she is overseeing our water.
Estimates are not measurements.
The TWDB claims that fracking uses only 1% of the water used in Texas and the media happily parrots that.
Studies say that fracking consumes less than 1 percent of the total water used statewide, far less than agriculture or even watering lawns. New York Times
There are three things wrong with that 1% figure.
- It’s not true. That is an estimate–an underestimate–given by the industry and repeated by the TWDB, not a number from metering.
- You can not compare the water used for fracking to other uses because it is a permanent withdrawal from our water budget.
- It paints a misleading picture. In some areas, fracking is sucking up all the water leaving residents with none.
How close are those TWDB estimates?
Highlighted on the chart above is Montague County, an agricultural county in the northern part of the Barnett Shale where, like the Eagle Ford, the shale is oily. The TWDB was a little off on their estimates for Montague.
In 2009, 77% of water used in Montague went to oil & gas production. In 2010, 91% of water used went to oil & gas production. (This was before the frack sand mine which is another tremendous water user.) Here’s how that looks in a graph from the Bowie News:
The TWDB estimates are not even close enough for government work.
The water used for fracking is not sustainable.
“We just can’t sustain it,” Hugh Fitzsimons, a Dimmit County bison rancher who serves on the board of his local groundwater district, said last month as he drove his pickup down a dusty road.
A study commissioned by his groundwater district found that in a five-county area that includes Dimmit, fracking reduces the amount of water in the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer by the equivalent of one-third of the aquifer’s recharge. New York Times
The water used to produce shale oil and gas is not sustainable. It’s reckless! For about 1.5 barrels of water you can have 1 barrel of oil.
In 2011, Texas used a greater number of barrels of water for oil and natural gas fracking (about 632 million) than the number of barrels of oil it produced (about 441 million), according to figures from the Texas Water Development Board and the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator. Texas Tribune
Apples are not oranges.
Remember, as I told you way, way back in 2007, before fracking was a household word: The water used for fracking is forever removed from our active hydrologic cycle. Fracking water use cannot be compared to water used for lawns and crop irrigation because that water is not a permanent withdrawal.
We need another way to calculate the water used by fracking. We need a modeling method that weights the usage to show, over time, how the permanent fracking withdrawals effect our water budget.
What about recycling or what is the meaning of is?
Industry likes to claim they recycle 100% of the water they use but that all depends on the definition of recycle and 100%.
The water used for fracking is not recycled back to potable water. It is not placed back into the aquifer. When industry talks about recycling they mean they reuse the water to frack another well, which is a good thing but there is a limit on how many times they can reuse the same water, about 1.5 to 2 times.
Depending on the formation and depending on who is talking, a percentage of the water used for fracking does not flowback up the hole but stays entombed in the formation. So they never recycle 100% because normally 100% does not come back to the surface.
Today recycling is only prevalent in the Marcellus shale, where about 90 percent of flowback water from wells is recycled, because there are few disposal wells in the region and water to be discarded must be trucked to Ohio to be injected underground. Reuters
90% of flowback ≠ 100% of frack water.
A single well hydrofracture in the Marcellus may require one to five million gallons of fracturing fluid, of which between 25 and 100 percent may be returned to the surface as “flowback” or “produced” water, which must then be disposed. NETL.doe.gov
Also, the water is not recycled to potable water standards and it’s not being injected back into the aquifer. It still requires disposal.
Rather than recycling it’s more accurate to say they reuse some of the water used for fracking then they dispose of it.
Keep your paws off our brackish water!
Another thing industry likes to brag about is their recent use of brackish water instead of fresh water.
David Blackmon, a managing director of FTI Consulting and a spokesman for the industry website Energy in Depth, said he expects that in three or four years the oil and gas industry will switch en mass to tapping brackish aquifers for hydraulic fracturing. The water versus energy paradox – Mywesttexas.com: Top
As we get thirstier and thirstier, what once was considered non-potable water is going to start looking mighty tasty. San Antonio is already using brackish water.
San Antonio Water System is currently developing a brackish groundwater desalination program in southern Bexar County. Brackish groundwater is a plentiful, previously untapped local source of water that will help diversify San Antonio’s supplies. Source
- When the media tries to compare water used for fracking to water used for lawns, call them on it every time.
- Be clear that the figures given for water use are only estimates not measurements and that in local areas the usage can be intense.
- When industry talks about recycling, ask them what “is” is.
- Tell everyone that shale oil and gas development is causing water bankruptcy.
- End crony appointments that put corporations over people.
- And some other stuff I can’t think of right now.
In this post, I used fracking water generally but the water industry uses is far greater than just the water used for fracking. Stay tuned.
Update: Suggested addition from reader:
“In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the ‘Sinkholes of Stupid’ causing collapse in Texas, where fracking has caused water shortages. In the second half, Max talks to Chris Martenson about the four signs of dangerous bubble territory, the markets oblivious to the costs of Fukushima meltdown and the bad economics of fracking.”
“Keiser Report: Sinkhole of Stupid”
August 29, 2013 08:30
About this: CH4 + 2 O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O. See the comments.