A recent survey conducted by Atlanta-based Ecologix Environmental Systems reveals that water management is widely viewed as the single most important issue in need of regulation in the hydraulic fracturing industry.
The one-question survey asked top energy and water industry decision makers to select which hydraulic fracturing-related activity was in most dire need of regulation. Issues dealing with how water is obtained, used and disposed of overwhelmingly topped the list of concerns, with 85 percent of respondents indicating that the most immediate regulatory need in the fracking industry centers on managing water resources. The most pressing water management concern identified was water disposal, followed closely by water reuse requirements and fresh water withdrawal limitations.
“Onsite water treatment provides a trifecta of benefits to operators by greatly reducing the need for water withdrawal, reducing the need for water transport, and perhaps most importantly, producing clean water that is safe for eventual disposal,” said Eli Gruber, president and CEO of Ecologix. “Pragmatic water solutions bridge the gap between energy needs and environmental responsibility.”
Wastewater treatment solutions enable fracking operators to play a vital role in protecting local environments by reducing the need to draw from local aquifers and haul millions of gallons of water to well sites. Treatment technologies like the Ecologix ITS 900, which can process 900 gallons of water per minute, have the capability to clean both flowback and produced water from several nearby wells at a single site. Water cleaned in this manner is suitable to use for additional fracking activity and is safe for municipal disposal, eliminating the need to haul wastewater long distances and pay fees for injection well disposal.
Currently employed fracking practices place stress on the environment by withdrawing millions of gallons of water from local sources and then disposing of it in deep underground injection wells after it is infused with toxic chemicals. This process can be completed multiple times per fracking well and creates an imbalance in water supplies. This is a particular concern in arid regions such as west Texas.
“If every fracking operation began with a comprehensive plan to manage and reuse water properly, it would be possible to see the day where existing resources would remain relatively untouched by the industry,” Gruber said. “As the practice of fracking continues to proliferate, the focus should now be shifted to reducing environmental impact while achieving financial and transportation efficiency. Today we have the capability to do just that.”