April 2, 2016
The fracking process uses vast amounts of water. Each time a well is fracked it uses around 8 million litres of water, the equivalent of the daily water use of 65,000 people. The amount of water will vary depending on the geology but in general the water used per frack has increased over the past few years.
Wells are fracked multiple times and gasfields contain multiple wells so the amount of water used in the process quickly adds up. In drier areas like the WA Mid West this water use is of particular concern.
What to do with the water once it has been used to frack a well is another problem. Fracking fluid contains a toxic mix of chemicals and in addition when the water burps back up the pipe it can bring with it a cocktail of even more nasty chemicals and radioactive materials, heavy metals and salts from the water inside the broken rocks it has shattered. This makes fracking waste water a major problem for fracking companies. Sometimes the water is reinjected deep underground but this also has its problems including that the water is taken out of the water cycle resulting in a permanent loss of that water from the system. Reinjection can also cause earth tremors and earthquakes. No one really knows the long-term impact of highly contaminated water reinjected back underground.
Often the waste water is left in ponds to evaporate or is released after into waterways after some “treatment” but this too has its problems including leaching of chemicals into surface water or shallow groundwater aquifers; poisoning of wildlife that is attracted to water sources; and soil contamination.