America's oil and gas rush is depleting water supplies in the driest and most drought-prone areas of the country, from Texas to California, new research has found.Most of the western US finds itself in the throws of a serious drought. It is a region that can never take water for granted at the best of times, and the present is anything but that. While there have always been year to year fluctuations in the picture, climate change seems very likely to create a long term negative trend of changing weather patterns.
Of the nearly 40,000 oil and gas wells drilled since 2011, three-quarters were located in areas where water is scarce, and 55% were in areas experiencing drought, the report by the Ceres investor network found.
Fracking those wells used 97bn gallons of water, raising new concerns about unforeseen costs of America's energy rush.
Fracking as a means of squeezing more oil out of the ground presents a number of environmental risks and concerns. The huge demands that it makes on the water supply is one of them. This chart shows where the most serious problems are.
There is no magic painless solution. We are going to be forced to change the way we do things to a far more sustainable approach to resources. Given the present political climate, it seems doubtful that such change will come about in any kind of orderly manner. It is much more likely to be forced by crisis and catastrophe.