New Fracking Report Finds High Levels of Water Consumption and Waste Generation

Earthworks et. al.

October 30, 2013

Analysis of data reveals unfulfilled promise of water recycling, gaps in industry reporting and state enforcement

Charleston, West Virginia, October 30, 2013—Today, a report was released that provides the most recent and comprehensive investigation of water used and waste generated by Marcellus Shale gas extraction operations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Based on state and industry data, the report finds that the volumes of water and waste are a cause for concern, and inadequate industry reporting requirements leave the true extent of the problem unknown. 

The report, Water Resource Reporting and Water Footprint from Marcellus Shale Development in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, was co-authored by Evan Hansen, president, and Meghan Betcher, environmental scientist, of the environmental analysis firm Downstream Strategies, and Dustin Mulvaney, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Energy Resources at San Jose State University. The report was developed in collaboration with Earthworks and funded by a Switzer Network Innovation Grant. The full report is available at

Key findings include:

“Water use and contamination are among the most pressing and controversial aspects of shale gas and oil development,” says Evan Hansen of Downstream Strategies. “Industry and policymakers must heed this information to prevent water and waste problems from escalating.”

“Our analysis of available data and identification of missing data indicates that, even with new reporting requirements, we still don’t know the full scale of impacts on water resources,” says Dustin Mulvaney of San Jose University. “States should require operators to track and report water and waste at every step, from well pad construction to fracturing to disposal.”

“It is clear from this report that fracking uses and will continue to use considerable water resources, despite industry claims to the contrary,” says Bruce Baizel director of Earthworks’ energy program. “This means we need stronger public oversight of fracking, and also a more robust debate on how much water we are willing to part with for the sake of fracking.”


Downstream Strategies combines sound interdisciplinary skills with a core belief in the importance of protecting the environment and linking economic development with natural resource stewardship.

Dustin Mulvaney is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Energy at San Jose State University and Principal of EcoShift, specializing in life cycle analysis and other sustainability solutions.

For 25 years, Earthworks has been dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.

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Tagged with: water withdrawal, water usage, water contamination, water, waste, fracking

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