California isn’t the only place where water is in short supply. More than a third of the world’s groundwater basins are distressed, according to a new study, and climate change and a growing population will only make things worse.
New Mexico regulators have adopted a rule allowing oil and gas developers to reuse water produced during drilling operations. The state Oil Conservation Commission says the rule will reduce the industry’s use of fresh water by promoting recycling and reuse. The rule includes requirements for the storage of so-called produced water and for the protection of fresh water sources.
Across the globe, reports reveal huge areas in crisis today as reservoirs and aquifers dry up. More than a billion individuals, 1 in 7 people on the planet, now lack access to safe drinking water.
Although most Americans believe water scarcity occurs only in countries where Angelina Jolie campaigns for peace, two of the world’s most overexerted rivers are right here in the United States. According to the World Resource Institute, both the Colorado and Rio Grande suffer from extremely high stress, meaning that we annually withdraw more than 80 percent of each river’s renewable water supply, and at least a third of the US exhibits medium to high water stress or greater.
The oil and gas drilling boom that has sent thousands of workers and rigs into North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Texas now is spurring another gold rush, as companies jockey to clean up the briny, metal-laden water that pours out of wells nationwide. The potential prize is huge, because the hydraulic fracturing process that is key to unlocking new oil and natural gas reserves involves blasting millions of gallons of water, along with sand and chemicals, deep underground to break up dense rock formations and unlock the hydrocarbons trapped inside. The push for water recycling marks a change for many oil and gas producers. “This is so attractive because the money relative to the volumes of water is so high.”
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