In the documentary, GasLand, a Colorado man turns on his kitchen faucet and ignites what comes out of it, blaming nearby natural gas drilling. While this image certainly makes for dramatic movie making, it does precious little for the actual truth (the phenomenon was due to an improperly dug water well and had nothing to do with natural gas drilling).
“Fracking” (slang for hydraulic fracturing; the method used to extract shale natural gas) is routinely blamed for adversely affecting water. Not a drop has been grounded in reality.
MYTH #1: Fracking strains water resources.
Untrue. While fracking fluid is 99.5% made up of water and sand, as a percentage of total consumption, fracking is considered a light industrial user. Of all the water we use, natural gas production utilizes less than 1% of it. Compare that to municipal/public use (82.5%), irrigation (6%), industry/mining (4.5%), and power generation (4%). And far less water than most other sources in our energy mix. Plus, the already heavily regulated industry is innovating and reducing the amount of water it uses, all the time – by improving the fracking process and reusing water when possible.
MYTH #2: Fracking pollutes our drinking water.
Untrue. Underground water tables exist under a few hundred metres deep, while fracking occurs well below 3000-4000 metres with solid, impermeable rock in between. Properly executed fracturing is high regulated by Environment Canada. That means the industry employs best drilling practices – using pressure-treated steel casings, cemented into place to prevent fluids from migrating into water wells. They also maintain oversight, inspection and enforcement of all existing regulations.
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IGU (2012). Shale Gas: The Facts about the Environmental Concerns http://powerelectronics.com/content/debunking-fracking-myths