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Does oil and gas production consume too much water?

1 min read

As water used in oil and gas production is increasing, arid Western states are asking if the industry is using too much of a precious resource and asking for more regulation, writes Jennifer Oldham for Capital & Main.

In a nutshell:

Oil and gas extraction are extremely water-intensive. While the industry still represents a relatively small portion of overall water consumption, it's increasing fast in states like Colorado, where oil and gas companies have more than doubled their use of freshwater for production in the past decade, reports Oldham. Recycling wastewater -- so-called "produced" water -- is one solution, but questions abound about what's in it, and how to test and treat it for safe re-use.

Key quote:

“There’s not a lot of research out there on produced water,” said Cloelle Danforth, a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. “If you think about domestic wastewater, it’s publicly owned and we can study it. Oil and gas wastewater is not publicly owned. And there is no incentive for companies to share [water for sampling].”

Big picture:

As climate change drives drought in the western U.S., the fossil fuel industry is increasingly competing with towns, cities and agriculture for scarce water resources. Finding other uses for produced wastewater could save industry money and alleviate some of that strain. But understanding whether and in what circumstances industry wastewater can be safely re-used is a crucial first step, and entails developing analytical methods to identify, quantify and assess potential health risks of the more than 1,000 chemicals in produced water.

Read the full story from Capital and Mainhere.

About the author(s):

EHN Staff

Articles written and posted by staff at Environmental Health News

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