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The Coloradoan Reports “Experts: Fracking Depletes Water Supply”

March 4, 2012

Last week, reporter Bobby Magill opened his article, “Experts: Fracking Depletes Water Supply,” with the strong declaration that “when water is used for fracking, it’s used to extinction.”

Magill writes:

“It’s taken out of the hydrological cycle, never used again,” Phillip Doe, a former environmental compliance officer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said Thursday. “When they say 5 million gallons for a frack, they’re talking about 5 million gallons that will never see light again, and that’s if they’re lucky.”

Speaking during a League of Women Voters Cross Currents forum on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for oil and gas drilling, Doe said one of the biggest challenges facing the Front Range today is the amount of water used for drilling for oil and natural gas. That’s because water used for agriculture and most other uses is returned into the hydrological cycle and used again.

Magill continues on to explore the importance of water use for fracking, the impact it may have on the Front Range region of Colorado, and how this is connected to our society’s energy consumption:

But though Doe, representing an environmental group called Be the Change USA, said water availability for energy development in Northern Colorado is a growing concern, [Tisha Schuller, CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association] said the amount of water used for fracking is no greater than the water used for making snow at ski resorts.

Regardless how much water is used for oil drilling, water-consumptive oil and gas development is necessary to maintain the kind of society Americans demand to live in, she said.


Doe said getting water to the Front Range for oil development is destroying the Colorado River because any additional water for Front Range development has to come from either the Colorado River drainage west of the Continental Divide or from agricultural producers who would have to fallow their land to provide water for other uses.

“We use about 16 million acre-feet of water per year in this state, but we use it over and over again,” Doe said. “Our rivers are over-appropriated now. We don’t have any more. When we’re out of water, we’re going to have to take it from agriculture. Is this the decision we want to make as a state?”

The contrast between the trivializing response of industry representative Schuller and the more empirical response of environmentalist Doe is telling of the state of things – specifically, water – in Colorado and beyond.

Read the rest of Magill’s article to learn more about the concerns facing those in Colorado who are also struggling with the development of fracking in their communities.

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