We evaluated the overall water footprint of hydraulic fracturing of unconventional shale gas and oil throughout the United States based on integrated data from multiple database sources. We show that between 2005 and 2014, unconventional shale gas and oil extraction used 708 billion liters and 232 billion liters of water, respectively. From 2012 to 2014, the annual water use rates were 116 billion liters per year for shale gas and 66 billion liters per year for unconventional oil. Integrated data from 6 to 10 years of operation yielded 803 billion liters of combined flowback and produced water from unconventional shale gas and oil formations. While the hydraulic fracturing revolution has increased water use and wastewater production in the United States, its water use and produced water intensity is lower than other energy extraction methods and represents only a fraction of total industrial water use nationwide.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis