A database of hydraulically fractured wells is overlaid on a map of baseline water stress in the United States. Colors represent water stress, black dots represent hydraulically-fractured wells. Source: WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Texas has a lot of fracking resources. Water isn’t one of them. What does Texas’s fracking need most? That’s right: water, and lots of it.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing for the ill-humored, is the process of blasting chemical-rich water into the ground to cause tiny fractures from which natural gas can be collected. The technique is at the heart of the U.S. energy boom, which happens to coincide with some of the worst droughts in modern U.S. history.
This week Ceres, a group of data-loving visualizers, superimposed U.S. fracking wells over maps of water stress created by the World Resources Institute. Open the map, click the little circle in the bottom right to expand it to full screen and then zoom in.
Ceres’s analysis found that nearly half the fracked wells (black dots on the map) in the U.S. were in areas with high or extremely high water stress (areas in red). Scary stuff if you live in a water-stressed area. It’s interesting enough just to see those 40,000 wells spread across the country; keep in mind, this is just a sampling of frack wells built since 2011.