Fracking for oil and natural gas—or having enough water to drink.
That’s the possible dilemma facing a number of countries including the United States, according to a new report released by the World Resources Institute last week—though experts disagree on the real implications of the report and what should be done about it.
Forty percent of countries with shale-rich deposits—the types where hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is used to extract natural gas and oil—face water scarcity in and around the shale deposits, according to the WRI report.
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That’s significant because water is a key component in fracking. And many of these countries, like the U.S., are suffering from ongoing severe drought conditions and other causes of dwindling water supplies.
“This is a warning signal for the energy industry and governments around the globe,” said Paul Reig, an associate with the water program at WRI and lead author of the report. “We’re not taking a pro or anti position on fracking, but we’re saying that the scarcity of water where fracking’s used could cause major problems when it comes to water supplies from agriculture to drinking it.”