Fracking Uses Under 5% Total Volume Consumed

By The Bakken magazine staff | March 23, 2014

Water used for hydraulic fracturing in North Dakota accounted for less than 5 percent of the total volume consumed in 2013, according to a new report released by the N.D. Water Commission. “Facts About North Dakota Fracking & Water Use,” outlined several facets of the fracking process and how each effects water volumes in the state. Water sources used for fracking include surface and groundwater. Groundwater sources typically reside roughly 2,000 feet below the surface in freshwater aquifers. The Appropriation’s Division of the Office of the State Engineer is responsible for managing the freshwater aquifer.

The report shows North Dakota’s unique geology, highlighting the distance between any oil or water disposal activity and that of the freshwater aquifers. The report also discusses the state’s struggle to provide great access to the Missouri River water resources for the oil industry. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contends that it has authority of the Missouri River water through the Flood Control Act of 1944 to charge fees for the use of surplus stored water in mainstream reservoirs, the report said. In North Dakota, there is only 10 miles of Missouri shoreline accessible to the oil industry or others. The rest is controlled by the Corps.

“One day of the average daily flow of the Missouri River at Bismarck (45,480 acre-feet) is enough water to frack 6,497 wells or 87 percent of all wells ever fracked in North Dakota,” the report said. The average fracking process requires roughly 7 acre-feet of water.

The state’s Water Commission is currently working to hire more staff to meet the demands of the oil industry.