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Index > Environment > United States of America > As Oil and Gas Drilling Competes for Water, One New Mexico County Says No

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Hydraulic Fracturing Faces Growing Competition for Water Supplies in Water-Stressed Regions

Escalating Water Strains In Fracking Regions

Nearly half of fracking happens in places short on water

As Oil and Gas Drilling Competes for Water,
One New Mexico County Says No

Spread of Hydrofracking Could Strain Water Resources in Western USA

Investors Tackle Fracking And Water Scarcity Risks

Growing Water Scarcity in US is 'Hidden' Financial Risk for Investors

Fracking Can Strain U.S. Water Supplies

The Fracker’s Quest: More Water

Water Protection Gets Shortchanged in Proposed Fracking Rules

Nearly one in 10 U.S. watersheds is “stressed”

USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading To Benefit Environment, Economy

Halliburton Loophole

"Father of Fracking"
George Mitchell
concerns over environmental
impacts of fracking

History of Fracking
Only a new technology

USA Fracking Stories

A Texan tragedy

Gas injection may have triggered earthquakes in Texas

California Lags in Fracking Regulations

All In for California Water

Fracking in Michigan

Fracking in Michigan Potential Impact on Health, Environment, Economy

Hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale

Methane Gas from Marcellus Shale Drilling

Marcellus Shale Gas Economics

Health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling

Pennsylvania Fracking

Fracking in Virginia

Lesson From Wyoming Fracking

Water Pollution from Fracking

Hydraulic Fracturing Poses Substantial Water Pollution Risks

Methane in drinking water wells

Abandoned gas wells leak

Natural Gas Leaks Discovered in Boston

Methane Leaks Under Streets of Boston

Methane leaks make fracking dirty

Fracking effects real estate values

Fracking stimulates earthquakes

Protecting Gas Pipelines From Earthquakes

Gas Pipeline Earthquake - Simulations

America's crumbling pipelines

Averting Pipeline Failures

Dangers to Underground Pipelines

Gas Pipelines Could Serve as Wireless Links

Government Action needed on a National Energy Policy

EPA Releases Update on Ongoing Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Solar Booster Shot for Natural Gas Power Plants

Natural Gas Pricing Reform to Facilitate Carbon Tax Policy

Investing in fracking

What Oil Prices Have in Store?

Methane Out, Carbon Dioxide In

Health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling

Professor Ingraffea

Anti-Fracking Billboard

Natural Gas Drilling

Threats to Biodiversity

Pronghorn Migration
hindered by gas development

Microbes in a Fracking Site

Protozoa May Hold Key to World Water Safety

Shale Gas Production

Research into the Fracking Controversy

Convert Methane Into Useful Chemicals

Methane Natural Gas Into Diesel

'Natural Gas' at the molecular level

Arctic Methane risks

Arctic Methane Seeps

Great Gas Hydrate Escape

Undersea Methane Seep Ecosystem

Methane in the Atmosphere of Early Earth

Methane Natural Gas Linked to Climate Change

Cutting Methane Pollutants Would Slow Sea Level Rise

California | Colorado | Dakota | Marcellus | Massachusetts | Michigan | New York |
Ohio | Pennsylvania | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Wyoming

Shale Gas


As Oil and Gas Drilling Competes for Water,
One New Mexico County Says No

By Sandra Postel National Geographic

May 02, 2013 In drought-plagued New Mexico, water is gold. And this week, Mora County in the northern part of the state took a firm stand to protect its precious liquid: it banned all oil and gas extraction from county lands.

It is believed to be the first county in the nation to take such action.

Big oil companies, notably Shell, had reportedly already leased more than 100,000 acres of land in Mora.

But the county’s new ordinance calls for a state constitutional amendment that puts community rights above corporate property rights.

Of concern in Mora, and increasingly throughout the country, is the potential harm to water sources from oil and gas drilling, including a practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The process entails injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure deep underground so as to break up rocks and release the oil and gas they hold.

Because many wells cut through water-bearing formations called aquifers, fracking risks contaminating drinking water supplies with hazardous chemicals.

Yet fracking is exempt from compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Besides the threat of water contamination, fracking also competes for local water supplies.

A single well can require more than 5 million gallons of water.

Across the United States, 47 percent of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells are being developed in highly water-stressed regions, according to a report released this week by Ceres, a Boston-based non-profit organization that educates investors about corporate environmental risks.

Colorado and Texas, two states where fracking operations have expanded rapidly, exhibited the highest degree of water risk, according to the Ceres report.

In Colorado, 92 percent of shale gas and oil wells were in “extremely high” water stress regions, defined as areas in which cities, industries and farms are already using 80 percent or more of available water.

In Texas, 51 percent of wells were in “high or extremely high” water stress regions.

In some Texas counties, water use for fracking accounted for more than one-fifth of total water use.

The Ceres study used well data available at FracFocus.org and water stress maps developed by the Aqueduct Project at the World Resources Institute.

While the hydraulic fracturing industry has made some progress toward use of recycled and saline water, which could reduce competition for scarce freshwater supplies, these sources are still a minor component of the overall industry’s water demand.

And even with use of alternative water sources, the risks of groundwater contamination from the chemicals used in fracking remain.

With hydraulically fractured gas and oil production projected to double in the coming years, the bottom line, according to Ceres, is that “competition and conflicts over water should be a growing concern for companies, policymakers and investors.”

But Mora County’s decision – to keep more climate-altering fossil fuels in the ground so as to preserve and safeguard local water supplies for its people – draws a more precautionary line in the sand.

It’s a line other counties may want to draw, too – because without adequate supplies of safe drinking water, no region’s future is bright.

Sandra Postel is director of the Global Water Policy Project and Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society.

She is the author of several acclaimed books, including the award-winning Last Oasis, a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment, and one of the “Scientific American 50.”

She is co-creator of Change the Course, the national freshwater restoration campaign being piloted in the Colorado River Basin.

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