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Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources

In 2011, the EPA began research under its Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic
Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. The purpose of the study is to assess the potential impacts
of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, if any, and to identify the driving factors that
may affect the severity and frequency of such impacts. Scientists are focusing primarily on
hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to extract natural gas, with some study of other oil- and
gas-producing formations, including tight sands, and coalbeds. The EPA has designed the scope of
the research around five stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. Each stage of the cycle is
associated with a primary research question:

  • Water acquisition: What are the possible impacts of large volume water withdrawals from
    ground and surface waters on drinking water resources?
  • Chemical mixing: What are the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing fluid surface spills
    on or near well pads on drinking water resources?
  • Well injection: What are the possible impacts of the injection and fracturing process on
    drinking water resources?
  • Flowback and produced water: What are the possible impacts of flowback and produced
    water (collectively referred to as “hydraulic fracturing wastewater”) surface spills on or
    near well pads on drinking water resources?
  • Wastewater treatment and waste disposal: What are the possible impacts of inadequate
    treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewater on drinking water resources?

This report describes 18 research projects underway to answer these research questions and present the progress made as of September 2012 for each of the projects.

Bibliography:
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. Progress report
Published by: US EPA, Dec. 14, 2012

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