Energy companies in California used 70 million gallons of water for the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process to unearth oil and gas reserves, according to officials. The figure comes during the state’s increasingly urgent push to conserve water.
That amount is of water used is less than previously projected by industry — which estimated fracking used about 100 million gallons of water per year. Nevertheless, water in California is at premium. The state is entering its fourth year of record drought, and a mandatory water reduction plan was announced last week by Governor Jerry Brown. California may only have 12 months’ worth of water left, as snowpack measurements for the year are set to hit record lows. Yet fracking operations are not included in the conservation efforts.
To unleash oil or natural gas from shale or other areas, the fracking process requires blasting large volumes of highly pressurized water, sand, and other chemicals into layers of rock. Once used, toxic fracking wastewater is then either stored in deep underground wells, disposed of in open pits for evaporation, sprayed into waste fields, or used over again.