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Environmentalists Call For Drillers to Recycle Fracking Water

The Dallas City Council hears recommendations Wednesday by the Gas Drilling Task Force that could change city ordinances.
Daniel Foster/flickr
Environment Texas says gas drillers should be required to recycle fracking water.

Environment Texas wants the Legislature to stop water hogs. The group says that includes gas drillers.

At an event in Fort Worth, Luke Metzger with Environment Texas said two-thirds of Texas water is used by agriculture and energy. He says many power plants use outdated technology and a lot of water for cooling, and gas drillers on the Barnett Shale use millions of gallons for hydraulic facturing. Environment Texas wants lawmakers to require natural gas drillers to recycle that fracking water.

“It takes about 4.5 million gallons to frack a single well. Statewide, we estimated about 25 billion gallons of water were used last year for fracking; including about 2.8 billion in Tarrant County alone,” Metzger said.

Metzger says most all of the contaminated fracking water is sealed away forever in deep disposal wells. He says after last summer’s record-setting and damaging drought, no one should be allowed to waste water.

Ed Ireland, with the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council says gas drillers are not the state’s biggest water users.  He says residential customers use a lot more.

“If you cut out all natural gas drilling in North Texas, it would reduce water consumption by less than half a percent,” Ireland noted.

Ireland says there are some pilot programs for recycling fracking water, but current technology only reclaims about 30 percent, making it uneconomical on a large scale.

Environment Texas says the state is headed for a big water crisis if lawmakers don’t adopt tough, mandatory conservation standards when they meet in January.  

Photo credit: Daniel Foster/danielfoster437/Flickr

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.