Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fracking is not wasteful

I often read statistics about water.  In this case there is an ongoing condemnation of fracking as a technique for extracting oil and gas from shale deposits. One argument against it is that fracking uses vast amounts of water. A quote from the Denver Post that appeared in the Mountain Express said that each well uses a total of between a million and 5 million gallons of water. Wow! A  million gallons! Boy, that sounds like a lot of water!

So what does a million or 5 million gallons look like?  Let’s take the Big Wood River as an example.  Right now the river is running at about 200 cubic feet per second.  That means that at this current rate of flow, just under 130 million gallons will pass under the bridge at Hailey each and every day!  This one-day amount of water would serve the entire needs of between 26 and 130 fracking wells.

Those unfamiliar with water flows would reasonably be incredulous of this fact. “He must be on the payroll of Big Oil,” some might say.  So let’s do the math. One cubic foot per second for one day is 60 seconds times 60 minutes times 24 hours or 86,400 cubic feet. A cubic foot of water contains 7.5 gallons. So one cfs is 648,000 gallons per day.  At the current flow of 200 cfs, that’s 129,600,000 gallons per day, which I rounded up to 130 million which, as they say, is close enough for government work.

If anyone has a problem with the amount of water used in fracking, they should compare it to ethanol. The EPA estimates that two to 2.5 gallons of water is required to produce a gallon of gasoline, while a gallon of ethanol requires three gallons of water. And that’s the amount after the corn is grown and harvested and hauled to the plant. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that an acre of corn gives off 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of water in the transpiration process each day.  There are other statistics that show producing ethanol is not environmentally friendly.

And finally remember that water is a renewable resource. Worldwide, 7.5 trillion gallons of it fall on the ground every day.

Nick Cox



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