Researchers from the University of Austin say that water usage in the Eagle Ford has expanded exponentially over the last five years thanks to fracking.
The study, conducted by Bridget Scanlon, Robert Reedy and Jean Philippe Nicot, originated from concerns about potential water constraints that might limit oil and gas production using hydraulic fracturing in shale plays, particularly in semiarid regions and during droughts.
Fracking relies on massive amounts of water to break the shale rock to extract oil or gas. Scientis tracked Eagle Ford water usage for hydraulic fracturing between 2009 and 2013 and found that the 18 billion gallons used represent ~ 16% of the total water consumption in the area for 2012.
The study concluded that the regional impact is relatively small, saying “The comprehensive analysis of Eagle Ford water issues and comparison with other semiarid plays indicates that, with proper management, water should not constrain hydraulic fracking in these semiarid regions.”
The biggest area of concern noted in the study is that the Carrizo Wilcox Aquifer in the western part of the Eagle Ford has been declining for decades due to agricultural pumping in the area. Researchers go on to advise that producers should consider using brackish water as a way to avoid clashing with agricultural interests.
Related: South Texas Water Supply Sufficient