Water use and waste water

.2.3 Water use and waste water

Fracking is water-intensive. In the USA, operations on a six-well

pad require 54-174 million litres of water and 1,000-3,500

tonnes of chemicals for a first frack26. Wells are generally fracked

several times over their lifetime, each stage requiring additional

water. The UK’s only fracked shale gas well used 8.4 million litres

of water27 (equalling 50.4 million litres for six wells).

Water UK, the water trade body, warns that “Where water is in

short supply there may not be enough available from public water

supplies or the environment to meet the requirements for

hydraulic fracturing”28. Similarly, the Chartered Institute of Water

and Environmental Management stated: “Climate change

scenarios predict less water availability in the future so whether

this level of water use is appropriate in the long term to source

energy requires further research”29.

Fracking fluid returning to the surface (flowback) ranges from 15

to 80%30, and is classed as radioactive waste. This is likely to

require off-site treatment and disposal, placing a substantial

burden on waste-water treatment infrastructure. On-site

treatment and re-use could reduce volumes31 but this may not

be possible.

Water and waste-water will require transportation to and from

site. During site preparation and production this could range from

14 to 51 daily vehicle movements per well pad for up to 3