Assessing the effects of water withdrawal for hydraulic fracturing on surface water and groundwater – a review
Meteorology Hydrology and Water Management
The interaction between groundwater and surface water plays an important role in the function of riparian ecosystems and sustainable water resource management. Hydraulic fracturing, an unconventional oil and gas well stimulation method, has increased dramatically in North America in an effort to exploit previously inaccessible shale oil and gas reserves. Hydraulic fracturing often requires several thousand cubic meters of water to fracture the source formations. Use of such a high volume of
... high volume of water has raised considerable public concern over the sustainability of this activity and the potential impacts on surface water and groundwater. This paper provides a review of the published literature addressing the effects of water withdrawal for hydraulic fracturing on surface water and groundwater. The potential effects of such withdrawal are: decreased volume of water in rivers, streams, lakes and aquifers; alteration of natural flow regimes; regional water shortages during periods of drought; creating conflicts with other water users in water-stressed regions; inadequate downstream water availability; reduced downstream water quality for human uses, due to less water availability for dilution; and degradation of habitat and aquatic ecosystem function, impacting local wildlife. This review demonstrates that relatively little attention has been paid to quantify and understand these interactions, and suggests that there is a significant need for further research in this area to address the currently limited availability of data. Keywords Groundwater, surface water, hydraulic fracturing, water withdrawal, shale oil and gas production.