Yet another reason why we should take water into account in any development plan: fracking for shale gas uses huge amounts of water, competing with everything else, maybe even using more than power plants and cities.
Delaware Riverkeeper and Protecting Our Waters wrote for Waterkeeper Alliance today, The Water Footprint of Shale Gas Development,
Recent studies examining potable water supplies on a global scale, the current trends in American water consumption and the causes of depletion of this essential resource are helping us to understand that the footprint of shale gas development expands indefinitely when measured in water….
Of the seven nations where the groundwater footprint is greatest, the U.S. is one of the fastest speeding towards disaster. According to Cynthia Barnett’s Blue Revolution, scientists say the 20th century was the wettest in a thousand years and now drier times are ahead. This means that many of the management schemes we use now—based on 20th C planning—need to be changed to avoid catastrophe. So the 410 billion gallons of water America uses every day will suck the nation dry if we don’t stop over-tapping nearly every river and aquifer.
The biggest U.S. users are power plants and agriculture with private
and public utilities next, supplying the average 147 gallons per person per day that Americans use (four times more than we each used in 1950), far greater than the 33 gallons the Dutch use per capita and the 5 gallons per day used by people in many impoverished nations. Scientists say America’s High Plains and Floridan Aquifers, both enormous and water-rich, are being used faster than they can recharge—Florida can no longer fill its state’s drinking water needs and Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River has a 50-50 chance of going dry by 2021.…
Remember, Nuclear Plant Vogtle already uses more water than agriculture for the middle Savannah River watershed, and with the two new units will (if it doesn’t already) use more water than the city of Savannah. And coal and biomass are almost as bad for water overuse.
The Floridan Aquifer is our aquifer, the one Ben Copeland reminded us Jacksonville and Tallahassee and Orlando also drink from.
While our groundwater has been at historically low levels for most of the past year. Water levels have finally recently risen back into average ranges with the recent rains, but what will happen if we keep using water like we are, and add fracking to that?
Enter hydraulic fracturing for shale gas. The water footprint for shale gas is defined in two main ways—water consumed and water polluted.
See the article for the details, which ain’t pretty. Worth thinking about the next time you see energy experts making excuses for fracking. We don’t need to be doing this, considering already when all costs, including fuel, are taken into account, solar, which needs no fuel, already beats natural gas on price.
PS: Owed to Michael Noll.