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EPA-600-R-16-236ES

December 2016
www.epa.gov/hfstudy

Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas:
Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing
Water Cycle on Drinking Water
Resources in the United States

Executive Summary

Office of Research and Development
Washington, DC

Aerial photograph of hydraulic fracturing well sites near Williston, North Dakota.
Dakota. Image ©J Henry Fair / Flights provided by LightHawk

Executive Summary
P eople rely on clean and plentiful water re­
sources to meet their basic needs, includ­
ing drinking, bathing, and cooking. In the early
nation of the EPA’s study of the potential impacts
of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on drinking
water resources.
2000s, members of the public began to raise con­ The hydraulic fracturing water cycle de­
cerns about potential impacts on their drinking scribes the use of water in hydraulic fractur­
water from hydraulic fracturing at nearby oil and ing, from water withdrawals to make hydraulic
gas production wells. In response to these con­ fracturing fluids, through the mixing and injec­
cerns, Congress urged the U.S. Environmental tion of hydraulic fracturing fluids in oil and gas
Protection Agency (EPA) to study the relation­ production wells, to the collection and disposal
ship between hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas or reuse of produced water. These activities can
and drinking water in the United States. impact drinking water resources under some
The goals of the study were to assess the po­ circumstances. Impacts can range in frequency
tential for activities in the hydraulic fracturing and severity, depending on the combination of
water cycle to impact the quality or quantity of hydraulic fracturing water cycle activities and lo­
drinking water resources and to identify factors cal- or regional-scale factors. The following com­
that affect the frequency or severity of those im­ binations of activities and factors are more likely
pacts. To achieve these goals, the EPA conducted than others to result in more frequent or more
independent research, engaged stakeholders severe impacts:
through technical workshops and roundtables,
and reviewed approximately 1,200 cited sources y Water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing
of data and information. The data and informa­ in times or areas of low water availability,
tion gathered through these efforts served as the particularly in areas with limited or declin­
basis for this report, which represents the culmi- ing groundwater resources;

1

y Spills during the management of hydraulic frac­ duction wells and ranged in severity, from temporary
turing fluids and chemicals or produced water changes in water quality to contamination that made
that result in large volumes or high concentra­ private drinking water wells unusable.
tions of chemicals reaching groundwater re­ The available data and information allowed us to
sources; qualitatively describe factors that affect the frequen­
y Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into cy or severity of impacts at the local level. However,
wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, significant data gaps and uncertainties in the avail­
allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater able data prevented us from calculating or estimat­
resources; ing the national frequency of impacts on drinking
y Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly water resources from activities in the hydraulic frac­
into groundwater resources; turing water cycle. The data gaps and uncertainties
y Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic frac­ described in this report also precluded a full charac­
turing wastewater to surface water resources; terization of the severity of impacts.
and The scientific information in this report can help
y Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing waste­ inform decisions by federal, state, tribal, and local
water in unlined pits, resulting in contamination officials; industry; and communities. In the short-
of groundwater resources. term, attention could be focused on the combina­
tions of activities and factors outlined above. In the
The above conclusions are based on cases of longer-term, attention could be focused on reducing
identified impacts and other data, information, and the data gaps and uncertainties identified in this re­
analyses presented in this report. Cases of impacts port. Through these efforts, current and future drink­
were identified for all stages of the hydraulic frac­ ing water resources can be better protected in areas
turing water cycle. Identified impacts generally oc­ where hydraulic fracturing is occurring or being con­
curred near hydraulically fractured oil and gas pro­ sidered.

Drinking Water Resources in the United States

I n this report, drinking water resources are defined
as any water that now serves, or in the future
could serve, as a source of drinking water for public
2010, and approximately 14% of the population
obtained drinking water from non-public water
supplies. Non-public water supplies are often
or private use. This includes both surface water private water wells that supply drinking water to a
resources and groundwater resources (Text Box ES­ residence.
1). In 2010, approximately 58% of the total volume Future access to high-quality drinking water in
of water withdrawn for public and non-public the United States will likely be affected by changes
water supplies came from surface water resources in climate and water use. Since 2000, about 30%
and approximately 42% came from groundwater of the total area of the contiguous United States
resources (Maupin et al., 2014).1 Most people (86% has experienced moderate drought conditions
of the population) in the United States relied on and about 20% has experienced severe drought
public water supplies for their drinking water in conditions. Declines in surface water resources have

1
Public water systems provide water for human consumption from surface or groundwater through pipes or other
infrastructure to at least 15 service connections or serve an average of at least 25 people for at least 60 days a year. Non­
public water systems have fewer than 15 service connections and serve fewer than 25 individuals.

2

Text Box ES-1: Drinking Water Resources

In this report, drinking water resources are considered to be any water that now serves, or in the future could serve, as a
source of drinking water for public or private use. This includes both surface water bodies and underground rock formations
that contain water.
Surface water resources include water bodies located on the surface of the Earth. Rivers, springs, lakes, and reservoirs are
examples of surface water resources. Water quality and quantity are often considered when determining whether a surface
water resource could be used as a drinking water resource.

Groundwater resources are underground rock formations that contain water. Groundwater resources are found at different
depths nearly everywhere in the United States. Resource depth, water quality, and water yield are often considered when
determining whether a groundwater resource could be used as a drinking water resource.

led to increased withdrawals and net depletions of Natural processes and human activities can
groundwater in some areas. As a result, non-fresh affect the quality and quantity of current and future
water resources (e.g., wastewater from sewage drinking water resources. This report focuses on the
treatment plants, brackish groundwater and surface potential for activities in the hydraulic fracturing
water, and seawater) are increasingly treated and water cycle to impact drinking water resources;
used to meet drinking water demand. other processes or activities are not discussed.

Hydraulic Fracturing for
Oil and Gas in the United States
H ydraulic fracturing is frequently used to enhance
oil and gas production from underground rock
formations and is one of many activities that oc-
(Figure ES-1). During hydraulic fracturing, hydraulic
fracturing fluid is injected down an oil or gas produc­
tion well and into the targeted rock formation under
cur during the life of an oil and gas production well pressures great enough to fracture the oil- and gas­

3

approximately hydraulic fracturing is commonly associated with 3. gas.or gas-bearing estimated to have obtained drinking water from non­ 1 The targeted rock formation (sometimes called the “target zone” or “production zone”) is the portion of a subsurface rock formation that contains the oil or gas to be extracted.900 public water systems were estimated to have oil and gas production from deep. the Marcellus Shale in Penn­ in 1 mile of their water source. mately 2014. hydraulic fracturing expanded oil and Hydraulically fractured oil and gas production gas production to oil.1 The hydraulic fracturing fluid usually rock (e..000 to 30. Figure ES-1.g. sandstone. General timeline and summary of activities at a hydraulically fractured oil or gas production well. where they are collected and hydraulically fractured between 2000 and approxi­ managed.or gas-bearing rock formation to the produc­ new wells drilled and hydraulically fractured in tion well. and coal). it has systems served more than 8. An additional 3.000 new wells were drilled and hy­ 70% of gas production in 2015 (EIA. After hydraulic fracturing. and other oped in the late 1940s (Gallegos and Varela. oil. exposing more of tured appears to have decreased. Directional drilling allows oil and gas produc­ tion. 2016a. 2 See Table 3-1 in Chapter 3. technologies. with about 20. we estimate that slightly more than 50% of oil production and nearly 25. Wells hydraulically fractured between Hydraulically fractured oil and gas production 2000 and 2013 were located in pockets of activity wells have significantly contributed to the surge across the United States (Figure ES-2). bearing rock.. Approximately 1 million wells have been hydrau­ created fractures to keep the fractures “propped” lically fractured since the technique was first devel­ open.6 million people were (Text Box ES-2) and other types of oil. When combined with directional drilling 2015.2 Following the decline in oil and gas prices. these public water sylvania or the Bakken Shale in North Dakota).and gas-bearing rock forma­ wells can be located near or within sources of drink­ tions previously considered uneconomical. Roughly one third of those wells were tion well to the surface.g. 2015. b). carbonate. Based on sev­ in domestic oil and gas production. 4 . fluids flow through the fractures and up the produc­ IOGCC. Between 2000 and 2013. carries proppant (typically sand) into the newly. The draulically fractured in the United States each year surge occurred when hydraulic fracturing was com­ between 2011 and 2014. the tion wells to be drilled horizontally or directionally number of new wells drilled and hydraulically frac­ along the targeted rock formation. 2002). accounting for eral different data compilations.000 the oil. horizontal wells had at least one hydraulically fractured well with­ drilled into shale (e. in addition to existing wells bined with directional drilling technologies around that were hydraulically fractured to increase produc­ 2000.6 million people year- been used in a variety of oil and gas production wells round in 2013. Although ing water.

They can have different depths. and construction characteristics.. They can include new wells (i. and Well diagrams are not to scale.349 feet Targeted Rock Formation Vertical Horizontal Deviated Well depths and locations from FracFocus. production casings Oil and Gas Production Well Dictionary Casing Steel pipe that extends from the ground surface to the bottom of the drilled hole Cement A slurry that hardens around the outside of the casing.e. Texas Well depth = 19. surface. Texas Well depth = 685 feet San Augustine County. and industry experience and practices influence the number and placement of casing and cement. Well Construction Characteristics Wells are typically constructed using multiple layers of casing and cement. orientations. and production casings Conductor. intermediate. wells that are hydraulically fractured after producing oil and gas for some time). or deviated. depending Wells can be vertical. on the depth of the targeted rock formation. Ground Surface Conductor Conductor Protected Groundwater Surface Surface Casing Drilled Hole Intermediate Cement Production Production Targeted Rock Formation Conductor. surface. horizontal. The subsurface environment. Well Depth Well Orientation Wells can be relatively shallow or relatively deep.org. Production Well Ground Surface Targeted Rock Formation Milam County. cement fills the space between casings or between a casing and the drilled hole and provides support for the casing Conductor casing Casing that prevents the in-fill of dirt and rock in the uppermost few feet of drilled hole Intermediate casing Casing that seals off intermediate rock formations that may have different pressures than deeper or shallower rock formations Production casing Casing that transports fluids up and down the well Surface casing Casing that seals off groundwater resources that are identified as drinking water or useable Targeted rock formation The part of a rock formation that contains the oil and/or gas to be extracted 5 . state and federal regulations.Text Box ES-2: Hydraulically Fractured Oil and Gas Production Wells Hydraulically fractured oil and gas production wells come in different shapes and sizes..e. wells that are hydraulically fractured soon after construction) and old wells (i.

6 . See Section 2.. Locations of approximately 275. Data from DrillingInfo (2014). there is no vertical distance between the fractured oil and gas production wells are located top of the hydraulically fractured oil.2 in Chapter 6. the Powder River Basin in Montana and or gas-bearing rock formation.3. lic fracturing can occur in close vertical proximity to there can be thousands of feet of rock that separate drinking water resources.000 wells that were drilled and likely hydraulically fractured between 2000 and 2013. 1 This estimate only includes counties in which 30% or more of the population (i.and gas-bearing rock formation meets the definition of drinking water in some parts of the basin.. hydrau. water that is naturally found in the oil.5 in Chapter 2. turing water cycle to impact those resources. the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas).or gas-bearing near or within drinking water resources.2 In other parts hydraulically fractured well. two or more times the national aver­ age) relied on non-public water supplies in 2010. 2 In these cases. See Section 6. In some parts of the United treatable water from the hydraulically fractured oil- States (e.g.. of the country (e. there is a rock formation and the bottom of treatable water. Figure ES-2.g. greater potential for activities in the hydraulic frac­ as determined by data from state oil and gas agen. When hydraulically Wyoming).1 Underground.e. public water supplies in counties with at least one cies and state geological survey data.

The term “wastewater” is being used as a general description of certain waters and is not intended to constitute a term of art for legal or regulatory purposes. and additives at the fect the frequency or severity of impacts. and it does not estimate the extent of exposure or estimate the incidence of y Water Acquisition: the withdrawal of ground­ human health impacts.. or contaminant concentration). reuse in other hydraulic fracturing operations. regardless of mation. and y Frequency is the number of impacts per a given y Wastewater Disposal and Reuse: the disposal unit (e. spa­ been raised by stakeholders about hydraulic frac­ tial extent. Potential impacts on drinking water resources y Severity is the magnitude of change in the qual­ from the above activities are considered in this re­ ity or quantity of a drinking water resource as port. but are not limited to. 3 “Hydraulic fracturing wastewater” is defined in this report as produced water from hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells that is being managed using practices that include. tion and handling of water that returns to the y A factor is a feature of hydraulic fracturing oper­ surface after hydraulic fracturing and the trans­ ations or an environmental condition that affects portation of that water for disposal or reuse..g.Approach: The Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle T he EPA studied the relationship between hydrau­ lic fracturing for oil and gas and drinking water resources using the hydraulic fracturing water cycle turing (e. duration.g. severity. 7 ..g. potential air quality impacts or induced seismicity) or other oil and gas exploration and pro­ duction activities (e. as these were not has five stages. number and reuse of hydraulic fracturing wastewater.g. Additionally. report is not a human health risk assessment. injection in Class II wells. that results from an activity in the hy­ y Produced Water Handling: the on-site collec­ draulic fracturing water cycle. water is an example of a base fluid.1 definitions used in this report are provided below: y Well Injection: the injection and movement of hydraulic fracturing fluids through the oil and y An impact is any change in the quality or quan­ gas production well and in the targeted rock for­ tity of drinking water resources. proppant.. or number of water bodies). Specific well site to create hydraulic fracturing fluids. geographic area. 1 A base fluid is the fluid into which proppants and additives are mixed to make a hydraulic fracturing fluid. it does The stages and activities of the hydraulic fracturing not identify populations exposed to hydraulic frac­ water cycle include: turing-related chemicals. water or surface water to make hydraulic frac­ Each stage of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle turing fluids. 2 “Produced water” is defined in this report as water that flows from and through oil and gas wells to the surface as a by- product of oil and gas production. each stage is defined by an activity included in the scope of the study. environmental impacts from (Figure ES-3). We do not address other concerns that have measured by a given metric (e.3 of hydraulically fractured wells.2 the frequency or severity of impacts. and various aboveground disposal practices. unit of time. was assessed to identify (1) the potential for impacts y Chemical Mixing: the mixing of a base fluid on drinking water resources and (2) factors that af­ (typically water). Additives are chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that are added to the base fluid to change its properties. this involving water that supports hydraulic fracturing. Class II wells are used to inject wastewater associated with oil and gas production underground and are regulated under the Underground Injection Control Program of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The hydraulic fracturing water cycle site selection and development).

databases maintained by federal and 8 . development of future strategies and actions to Relevant scientific literature and data were prevent or reduce impacts. The five stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. Data sources included federal. (b) wastewater treatment followed by reuse in other hydraulic fracturing operations or discharge to surface waters. Activities may take place in the same watershed or different watersheds and close to or far from drinking water resources. ing water cycle. and industry publications. they were reported in the scientific literature. Specific activities in the “Wastewater Disposal and Reuse” inset include (a) disposal of wastewater through underground injection. Although no attempt evaluated for each stage of the hydraulic fractur­ was made to identify or evaluate best practices. lished in science and engineering journals. federal pacts from activities in the hydraulic fracturing and state government reports. and (c) disposal through evaporation or percolation pits. Figure not to scale Figure ES-3. data sets. Literature included articles pub- ways to reduce the frequency or severity of im. non-governmental water cycle are described in this report when organization reports. Thin arrows in the insets depict the movement of water and chemicals. The stages (shown in the insets) identify activities involving water that support hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas.and state-collected Laws. but a comprehen­ impacts were identified because they describe sive summary and broad evaluation of current or conditions under which impacts are more or less proposed regulations and policies was beyond the likely to occur and because they could inform the scope of this report. and policies also exist to pro. Factors affecting the frequency or severity of tect drinking water resources. regulations.

. were carefully considered A draft of this report underwent peer review in the development of this final document. 9 . It included independent research projects conducted by EPA scientists and contractors and a state-of-the-science assessment of available data and information on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources (i. While conducting the study. by the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB). the EPA requested information from the public and engaged with technical. Some of these data were claimed as confidential business information under the Toxic Substances Control Act and were treated as such in this report. the EPA consulted with the Agency’s independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) on the scope of the study and the progress made on the research projects. knowledge. this report). referred to as the Study Plan in this report) and a draft of this report. For more information on the EPA’s study. EPA. Peer review The relevant literature and data complement re­ comments provided by the SAB and public com­ search conducted by the EPA under its Plan to ments submitted to the SAB during their peer re­ Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing view. Members of including what is known about human health haz­ the SAB and ad hoc panels formed under the aus­ ards associated with chemicals identified across pices of the SAB are nominated by the public and all stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. The A summary of the activities in the hydraulic SAB is an independent federal advisory committee fracturing water cycle and their potential to im­ that often conducts peer reviews of high-profile pact drinking water resources is provided below. experience.gov/hfstudy.1 real or perceived conflicts of interest. The SAB also conducted a peer review of both the Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources (U. including the role of the SAB and stakeholders. Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources EPA Research Projects This Report Public Meetings Public Comments Scientific Science Existing Data Literature Science Advisory Board Technical Workshops Advisory Board Existing Data and Roundtables Scientific Literature Throughout the study. including comments on major conclusions on Drinking Water Resources (Text Box ES-3). and industry data provided to the EPA. 2011. and absence of any able data. scientific matters relevant to the EPA.S.state government agencies. subject- matter experts on topics relevant to the study in a series of technical workshops and roundtables. 1 Industry data was provided to the EPA in response to two separate information requests to oil and gas service compa­ nies and oil and gas production well operators.epa. While developing the scope of the study. other publicly avail­ tise. the EPA held public meetings to get input from stakeholders on the study scope and design.e. visit www. Text Box ES-3: The EPA’s Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources The EPA’s study is the first national study of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on drinking water resources. Stakeholder engagement also played an important role in the development and implementation of the study. and technical content. selected based on factors such as technical exper­ Additional details are available in the full report.

0. There was wide variation in the water vol­ or surface water resources located near hydrauli­ umes reported per well.000 liters) and 6 million gal­ sources can vary across the United States. lons (5. Despite the challenge of adapting a dataset originally created for local use and single-PDF viewing to answer broader questions. and invalid or erroneous information in the original disclosures or created during the development of the database. and water management practices. Oil and gas production well operators can disclose information at this website about water and chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids at individual wells. The GWPC has announced additional changes and upgrades for FracFocus 3.fracfocus. 2013. ern United States generally rely on surface water Text Box ES-4: FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry The FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry is a publicly-accessible website (www. The GWPC and the IOGCC provided the EPA with over 39.0 (Text fresh water taken from available groundwater and/ Box ES-4). Relationship to Drinking Water Resources Groundwater and surface water resources that provide water for hydraulic fracturing fluids can also provide drinking water for public or non-public water supplies. The development of FracFocus 2. W ater is the major component of nearly all hy­ draulic fracturing fluids. regula­ was also variation in water use per well within and tions.7 million liters) between January 2011 and Water used for hydraulic fracturing is typically February 2013. per well.000 gallons (280. including the type of well. respectively.0 rather than all hydraulic fracturing that occurred in the United States during the study time period. as reported in FracFocus 1. 10 . warning and error messages during submission. The project database represents the data reported to FracFocus 1. well operators are required to disclose to FracFocus well-specific information on water and chemical use during hydraulic fracturing. the fracture design. the project database created by the EPA provided substantial insight into water and chemical use for hydraulic fracturing. with 10th and 90th percentiles cally fractured oil and gas production wells. and further increase data transparency. This variation likely re­ Hydraulic fracturing operations in the humid east­ sults from several factors. Data in the disclosures were extracted and compiled in a project database. 2011. among states (Table ES-1). laws. completeness. and automatic formatting of certain fields.org) managed by the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC). depending lons (23 million liters) per well. which was used to conduct analyses on water and chemical use for hydraulic fracturing. The project database is an incomplete picture of all hydraulic fracturing due to voluntary reporting in some states for certain time periods (in the absence of state reporting requirements).0) before March 1. Water Acquisition The withdrawal of groundwater or surface water to make hydraulic fracturing fluids. Water of 74.5 million gal­ as more horizontal wells have been drilled. and the type of hydraulic fractur­ ing fluid used. provide greater data accuracy. which became the exclusive reporting mechanism in June 2013. and policies. was intended to increase the quality. There on regional or local water availability. Analyses were conducted on over 38. An analysis of hydraulic fracturing flu­ id data from Gallegos et al.0 to enhance data searchability. (2015) indicates that wa­ The median volume of water used. for hy­ ter volumes used per well have increased over time draulic fracturing was approximately 1.000 PDF disclosures submitted by well operators to FracFocus (version 1. 2013. In many states where oil and gas production occurs. the omission of information on confidential chemicals from disclosures. increase system security. and consistency of the data submitted by providing dropdown menus. and February 28.000 unique disclosures for wells located in 20 states that were hydraulically fractured between January 1. typically making up 90–97% of the total fluid volume injected into a well.

313. in the Marcellus Shale region of the Susquehanna River Basin.012.788 10. less than half of the water used 2014.638 1. ES-4).783 2.591. 2 See Section 4.837. ability of Class II wells.184.241 35.836 2.615.666 North Dakota 2.965 3.793 5. while ap­ proximately 90% of produced water was managed through reuse in other hydraulic fracturing operations (Figure ES-4a).552 New Mexico 1.906 7. and the costs of the proportion of injected fluid that is reused hydrau. and West Virginia between approximately 2008 and Hydraulic fracturing wastewater and other low.405 322.757 367.077.145 175. which are commonly used to ing fluids to offset the need for fresh water.297.109 2. For example. trucking wastewater to Ohio.898 463.022.727 1.380 969. Geographic differences in draulic fracturing that comes from reused hydraulic water use for hydraulic fracturing are illustrated in fracturing wastewater appears to be low. 2014.402.453.092.455.997.709 6.462 285.423 5.568 5.238 3.099 7. Water use per hydraulically fractured well between January 2011 and February 2013.2 in Chapter 4.286 769.360 West Virginia 273 5.926 Louisiana 966 5.Table ES-1. where Class II wells are 1 Reused hydraulic fracturing wastewater as a percentage of injected fluid differs from the percentage of produced water that is managed through reuse in other hydraulic fracturing operations. 11 .260.326 2. approximately 14% of injected fluid was reused hydraulic fracturing wastewater.353 3.778 1.027 Oklahoma 1. the proportion of water used in hy­ water or surface water.630 Montana 207 1.571.887. which shows that most of the water used of literature values from 10 states. In comparison.121.963 7. or plays.0 Disclosures Well (gallons) (gallons) (gallons) Arkansas 1.0 (Appendix B).863 1. In a survey Figure ES-4.1 Overall.936 2.195 Utah 1.234. lic fracturing wastewater varies by location (Figure arid western United States generally rely on ground. for hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale region the median percentage of the injected fluid volume of the Susquehanna River Basin came from surface that came from reused hydraulic fracturing waste­ water resources between approximately 2008 and water was 5% between approximately 2008 and 2013.649 6.981 Texas 16.306 Colorado 4.227. basins.885.812. Medians and percentiles were calculated from data submitted to FracFocus 1.249 California 711 76.080 Wyoming 1.406 302.170.313.210 7. whereas operations in the arid and semi.024 Kansas 121 1.462 147. This increase is likely due to the limited avail­ er-quality water can also be used in hydraulic fractur.613 58.420. although dispose of oil and gas wastewater.075 76.445 4.380 3.259.230 Pennsylvania 2. Number of FracFocus Median Volume per 10th percentile 90th percentile State 1.482 Ohio 146 3.818 21.882 1.2 There was an increase in the reuse of hydrau­ for hydraulic fracturing in the Barnett Shale region lic fracturing wastewater as a percentage of the in- of Texas came from surface water resources between jected hydraulic fracturing fluid in both Pennsylvania approximately 2011 and 2013.945.499 2.602 resources.115.871.

12 .9-4. Although every water withdrawal affects water quan- Because the same water resource can be used to tity.000-1. (b) Barnett Shale.6 million gallons 420. (a) Marcellus Shale. Data sources are described in Figure 10-1 in Chapter 10. Most of the injected fluid stays in the subsurface. 4. more prevalent.5 million gallons injected produced 4% 5% Well 48% 48% 95% Surface Water Groundwater Reuse in hydraulic fracturing Reused hydraulic fracturing wastewater Class II well Produced water volumes over three years can be approximately the same as the injected fluid volume. withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing can Texas. than in the Marcellus Shale (Figure ES-4). directly impact drinking water resources by chang­ turing fluids in the Barnett Shale appears to be lower ing the quantity or quality of the remaining water. Class II wells are used to inject wastewater associated with oil and gas production underground and are regulated under the Underground Injection Control Program of the Safe Drinking Water Act.3 million gallons Susquehanna River Basin injected produced 10% 14% 7% 90%* Well Reuse in hydraulic fracturing Class II well 79% *Less than approximately 1% is treated at facilities that are either permitted to discharge to surface water or whose discharge status is uncertain.1-4.5 million gallons 3. Figure ES-4. we focused on water withdrawals that have the support hydraulic fracturing and to provide drink. produced Surface Water Groundwater water volumes over 10 years are approximately 10-30% of Reused hydraulic fracturing wastewater the injected fluid volume.9-4. potential to significantly impact drinking water re­ 1 See Chapter 8 for additional information on Class II wells.1 Class II wells are also prevalent in ing water. Water budgets illustrative of hydraulic fracturing water management practices in (a) the Marcellus Shale in the Susquehanna River Basin between approximately 2008 and 2013 and (b) the Barnett Shale in Texas between approximately 2011 and 2013. and the reuse of wastewater in hydraulic frac. Texas 3.

EPA. The county-level water availability estimates used in this report represent the portion of water available to new users within a county. Groundwater impacts have also been reported counties.S. This suggests that hydraulic frac­ in an area overlying the Haynesville Shale ran out of turing operations represented a relatively small user water due to higher than normal groundwater with­ of water in most counties. the total volume of water in most. multiple oil and gas production wells level of hydraulic fracturing reported to FracFocus 1. drawals and drought (Louisiana Ground Water Re­ however. hydraulically fractured oil and gas production well However. 1 Hydraulic fracturing water consumption estimates followed the same general pattern as the water use estimates pre­ sented here.4 in Chapter 4). for example. (2014) a relatively large user of water. In a detailed case study. hydraulic fracturing operations represented in Texas. (2013) estimates of water availability for siting new thermoelectric power plants (see Text Box 4-2 in Chapter 4 for details). water use at the county level (Text Box ES-5). This observa­ needed to hydraulically fracture all of the wells has tion does not preclude the possibility of local impacts the potential to be a significant portion of the water in other areas of the country. 13 .0 were 10% or more of total water use in hydraulic fracturing contributed to these conditions. 2012). but with slightly larger percentages in each category (Section 4. In 2011. This analysis suggests that there the availability of drinking water or alter its quality. In most Local impacts on drinking water quantity have counties studied. because the volume of water needed to annual volume of readily-available fresh water in 17 hydraulically fracture a single well is unlikely to limit counties in Texas. assess the potential for these impacts. such as the ones de­ compared water use for hydraulic fracturing to total scribed below.0 were generally less than 1% activity. Increased wa­ fracturing activity increased in 2009. counties in Texas. 26 of the 401 counties studied. we those impacts. and 50% or more in four counties. average annual water volumes reported for ter for hydraulic fracturing in the study area (U. average annual water volumes reported for are not expected to significantly impact drinking wa­ hydraulic fracturing were greater than the estimated ter resources. To better understand whether lo­ To assess whether hydraulic fracturing opera­ cal impacts have occurred.sources by limiting the availability of drinking water hydraulic fracturing were less than 1% of the esti­ or altering its quality. Water withdrawals for FracFocus 1. local-level studies. areas of the country. There were exceptions. 30% or more in nine along with other water users and the lack of precipi­ counties. 2 County-level water availability estimates were derived from the Tidwell et al. was enough water available annually to support the If. Water withdrawals for a single mated annual volume of readily-available fresh water.1 In these tation. and the factors that affect tions are a relatively large or small user of water. estimated that groundwater levels in approximately The above results suggest that hydraulic fractur­ 6% of the area studied dropped by 100 feet (31 me­ ing operations can significantly increase the volume ters) to 200 feet (61 meters) or more after hydraulic of water withdrawn in particular areas. ter withdrawals can result in significant impacts on In contrast. the EPA found that hydraulic fracturing water use to estimates of wa­ high-quality water produced from oil and gas wells in ter availability at the county level. we compared In the Upper Colorado River Basin.0 are located within an area. To drinking water resources from hydraulic fracturing. nor does it indicate that available and impacts on drinking water resources local impacts have occurred or will occur in the 17 can occur. are needed. but not all. Average annual water volumes reported in sources Commission. Scanlon et al.2 In most counties the Piceance tight sands provided nearly all of the wa­ studied. drinking water wells of total water use. the average annual water volumes occurred in areas with increased hydraulic fracturing reported in FracFocus 1. however. studies in the Upper Colorado and drinking water resources if there is insufficient wa­ Susquehanna River basins found minimal impacts on ter available in the area to accommodate all users.

0 7. crude petroleum). and outdoor purposes such as watering lawns and gardens Industrial Water used for fabrication. and Mountrail County. Total water use at the county-level was obtained from the most recent census. to total water use in 2010.872 106 135 449 438 4.844 1. North Dakota 44 wells reported in FracFocus 1. coal. dairy operations. For most counties studied. and other ores). including solids (e. and gases (e. gravel.g.0 represented a relatively large user of water. But in some counties. sand.0 508 wells reported in FracFocus 1.g. parks and golf courses) Livestock Water used for livestock watering. Examples of Water Use in Two Counties: Wilson County. washing clothes and dishes..833 183 Industrial use was 11 million gallons 85 Public Supply Irrigation Public Supply Irrigation Hydraulic Total† Domestic Livestock Hydraulic Total† Domestic Livestock Fracturing* Industrial Mining Fracturing* Industrial Mining Depending on local water availability. hydraulic fracturing water withdrawals may be less likely to significantly impact water withdrawals may be more likely to significantly impact drinking water resources under this kind of scenario. †The U. washing. at the county-level. hydraulic fracturing Depending on local water availability. Texas.248 2010 Total Water Use† 2010 Total Water Use† Water Volume (million gallons) Water Volume (million gallons) 164 179 858 288 26 1. processing. North Dakota Wilson County. average annual water volumes reported for individual counties in FracFocus 1. hydraulic fracturing operations reported in FracFocus 1. drinking water resources under this kind of scenario. which was conducted in 2010 (Maupin et al. bathing. feedlots.g. flushing toilets. Texas Mountrail County. natural gas) 14 . liquids (e. Geological Survey compiles national water use estimates every five years in the National Water Census. the average annual water use for hydraulic fracturing in 2011 and 2012 was compared. Average annual water use for hydraulic fracturing was calculated at the county-level using data reported in FracFocus 1.. and cooling Irrigation Water that is applied by an irrigation system to assist crop and pasture growth or to maintain vegetation on recreational lands (e. 2014).0 in 2011 and 2012 (Appendix B). 2010 Total Water Use Categories Public supply Water withdrawn by public and private water suppliers that provide water to at least 25 people or have a minimum of 15 connections Domestic Self-supplied water withdrawals for indoor household purposes such as drinking.0 were less than 1% of total water use in those counties. food preparation..S.. *Hydraulic fracturing water use is a function of the water use per well and the total number of wells hydraulically fractured within a county.g. Text Box ES-5: County-Level Water Use for Hydraulic Fracturing To assess whether hydraulic fracturing operations are a relatively large or small user of water. and other on-farm needs Mining Water used for the extraction of naturally-occurring minerals..

and could. hydraulic fracturing groundwater recharge rates can be low. In western and southern Texas. from surface water resources. Due to this high reuse rate. A passby ing impacts on fresh water sources. areas with relatively high hydraulic fracturing water for irrigation).. Changes that Hot. multiple studies and lic fracturing. the Susquehanna River Basin Commission lim­ drawals. 15 . Examples of these wa­ however. impacts can water withdrawals can affect the quantity and qual­ last for many years. ter management strategies can be found throughout including passby flows and reuse of hydraulic fractur­ the United States. And. Louisiana and North which water withdrawals are not allowed. This combination of factors—high hy­ withdrawals and low water availability. the EPA did not resources from hydraulic fracturing water withdraw­ identify any locations in the study area where hydrau­ als.2015b). In particular. including withdrawals for hy­ Water Acquisition Conclusions draulic fracturing. able to more frequent and more severe impacts from all water withdrawals. These strategies include using hydraulic fractur­ lic fracturing contributed to locally high water use. low-streamflow threshold below creased. the use of brackish water is currently reduc­ by hydraulic fracturing water withdrawals. lic fracturing water withdrawals in the Marcellus Shale and using passby flows to control water withdrawals to impact surface water resources.g. In ing wastewater or brackish groundwater for hydrau­ the Susquehanna River Basin. while water or alter its quality are more likely to occur in water demand often increases simultaneously (e. hydraulic fracturing als can limit the availability of belowground drink­ uses a relatively small percentage of water when ing water resources and can also change the qual­ compared to total water use and availability at large ity of the water remaining in the resource. reduce future impacts.. areas of the United States that its surface water withdrawals during periods of low rely on declining groundwater resources are vulner­ stream flow. help protect streams from depletion example. Because geographic scales. dry weather reduces or prevents groundwater have the potential to limit the availability of drinking recharge and depletes surface water bodies. for ing wastewater. transitioning from limited groundwater state reports have identified the potential for hydrau­ resources to more abundant surface water resources. encouragement and/or frequent drought—was found to be present in of alternative water sources or water withdrawal southern and western Texas. Despite this. particularly draulic fracturing water use and relatively low water due to limited or declining groundwater resources. Seasonal or long-term drought ity of drinking water resources by changing the bal­ can also make impacts more frequent and more se­ ance between the demand on local water resources vere for groundwater and surface water resources. as described water resources from hydraulic fracturing water with­ above. restrictions) can reduce the frequency or severity of Water management strategies can also affect the impacts on drinking water resources from hydraulic frequency and severity of impacts on drinking water fracturing water withdrawals. if in­ flow is a prescribed.g. and the availability of those resources. Evidence suggests. availability due to declining groundwater resources Water management strategies (e. that current water management strategies. Extensive groundwater withdraw­ With notable exceptions. Dakota have encouraged well operators to withdraw The above examples highlight factors that can af­ water from surface water resources instead of high- fect the frequency or severity of impacts on drinking quality groundwater resources.

As illustrated in Text Box ES-6.. 16 . Chemical Mixing The mixing of a base fluid.S. increase fluid thickness.0. hydrotreated light petroleum distillates). tempera­ turing fluid data reported to FracFocus 1. wells (U.g. H ydraulic fracturing fluids are engineered to cre­ ate and grow fractures in the targeted rock for­ mation and to carry proppant through the oil and bauxite.3 The EPA’s analysis of FracFocus proppant between January 2011 and February 2013. 2015a). proppant. 1.g. we refer to the substances identified by unique CASRNs as “chemicals.2. such as high-strength ceramic materials or sintered hydrotreated light petroleum distillates.. proppant.g. EPA. chemicals. and well operator or service com­ between January 2011 and February 2013 (U.. and additives. 2 This list includes 1. Only one of the 263 chemicals was reported at greater than 1% of wells.S. 2011. Three chemicals—methanol. and additives at the well site to create hydraulic fracturing fluids. water in properties (e. The EPA Proppant makes up the second largest propor­ identified 1. adjust pH. and April 13. EPA. Two hundred sixty-three of these CASRNs are not on the list of unique CASRNs identified by the EPA (Appendix H).S. are added to the base fluid to change its base fluids can be a single substance (e.. have been used in hydraulic fracturing fluids between Sand (i.g. suggests that a large num­ blended with water to form a base fluid in fewer than ber of different chemicals may be used in hydraulic 3% of wells in FracFocus 1.0 data indicates that between 4 and 28 chemicals with 98% of wells in FracFocus 1. the slickwater example) or can be a mixture of sub­ or limit bacterial growth).e. Addi­ make up the largest proportion of hydraulic fractur­ tives..084 chemicals that were reported to tion of hydraulic fracturing fluids (Text Box ES-6).. quartz) was the most commonly reported 2005 and 2013.g. 2015a).0 suggests ture. such as gases and hy­ The variability of additives. which suggests that these chemi­ cals were used at only a few sites. The EPA’s analysis of hydraulic frac­ targeted rock formation (e.. The choice of which ad­ stances (e. 2015a). which can be assigned to a single chemical (e. were reported to be used alone or and chemical composition. Relationship to Drinking Water Resources Spills of additives and hydraulic fracturing fluids can reach groundwater and surface water resources. and pressure). water and nitrogen in the energized ditives to use depends on the characteristics of the fluid example). and hydro­ 1 Sintered bauxite is crushed and powdered bauxite that is fused into spherical beads at high temperatures.g. EPA.0 reporting sand as were used per well between January 2011 and Febru­ the proppant (U. the economics and availability of that water was the most commonly used base fluid desired additives. turing fluids (Text Box ES-6). Other proppants can ary 2013 and that no single chemical was used in all include man-made or specially engineered particles. 2015. Non-water substances. rock type. Throughout this report. pany preferences and experience. yet have the greatest Hydraulic fracturing fluids are typically made up potential to impact the quality of drinking water re­ of base fluids. fracturing fluids across the United States. Base fluids sources compared to proppant and base fluids.1 Additives generally make up the smallest pro­ portion of the overall composition of hydraulic frac­ gas production well into the newly-created fractures.084 unique Chemical Abstracts Service Registration Numbers (CASRNs). hydrochloric acid) or a mixture of chemicals (e. both in their purpose drocarbon liquids. which can be a single chemical or a mixture of ing fluids by volume.” 3 Dayalu and Konschnik (2016) identified 995 unique CASRNs from data submitted to FracFocus between March 9.

Text Box ES-6: Examples of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Hydraulic fracturing fluids are engineered to create and extend fractures in the targeted rock formation and to carry proppant through the production well into the newly-created fractures.255 feet Total water volume = 4.org. 0.0009% Iron Control (1) 0. New Mexico 0.000 gallons *Maximum percent by mass of the total hydraulic fracturing fluid.01% Friction Reducer (1) 16%* Reused Wastewater 0.006% Biocide (3) 13% Sand 0.002% Scale Inhibitor (2) 0. Pennsylvania 0.03% Corrosion Inhibitor (11) 13% Sand 0. They can be used for hydraulic fracturing in under-pressured gas formations. Data obtained from FracFocus.763.640 feet Total water volume = 105. Slickwater Slickwater hydraulic fracturing fluids are water-based fluids that generally contain a friction reducer.2% Clay Control (1) 0.01% Friction Reducer (1) 1.03% Acid (1) 0.05% Foamer (2) 28%* Nitrogen (gas) 0. Slickwater is commonly used to hydraulically fracture shale formations.004% Iron Control (1) 1.5% Additives (28 Chemicals) Well depth = 7.08% Surfactant (3) 0.03% Biocide (4) 0.006% Scale Inhibitor (4) Rio Arriba County.1% Acid (1) 0.008% Breaker (1) 58% Water 0. The friction reducer makes it easier for the fluid to be pumped down the oil and gas production well at high rates. Additive Dictionary Acid Dissolves minerals and creates pre-fractures in the rock Biocide Controls or eliminates bacteria in the hydraulic fracturing fluid Breaker Reduces the thickness of the hydraulic fracturing fluid Clay control Prevents swelling and migration of formation clays Corrosion inhibitor Protects iron and steel equipment from rusting Foamer Creates a foam hydraulic fracturing fluid Friction reducer Reduces friction between the hydraulic fracturing fluid and pipes during pumping Iron control Prevents the precipitation of iron-containing chemicals Scale inhibitor Prevents the formation of scale buildup within the well Surfactant Reduces the surface tension of the hydraulic fracturing fluid 17 . 0. While there is no universal hydraulic fracturing fluid.0006% Corrosion 71% Fresh Water Inhibitor (5) Bradford County. there are general types of hydraulic fracturing fluids.05% Additives (13 Chemicals) Well depth = 7. Two types of hydraulic fracturing fluids are described below.000 gallons Energized Fluid Energized fluids are mixtures of liquids and gases.

tubing. used during hydraulic fracturing. dipotassium salt 13 Peroxydisulfuric acid. See Table 5-2 in Chapter 5..0. Because cur if spilled fluids reach groundwater or surface wa­ over 1 million gallons (3. heavy Sodium persulfate (7775-27-1) 10 21 aromatic (64742-94-5) a “Chemical” refers to chemical substances with a single CASRN.2-ethanediyl)-nonylphenyl- Glutaraldehyde (111-30-8) 34 12 hydroxy (mixture) (127087-87-0) Propargyl alcohol (107-19-7) 33 Formic acid (64-18-6) 12 Potassium hydroxide (1310-58-3) 29 Sodium chlorite (7758-19-2) 11 Ethanol (64-17-5) 29 Nonyl phenol ethoxylate (9016-45-9) 11 Acetic acid (64-19-7) 24 Tetrakis(hydroxymethyl)phosphonium 11 Citric acid (77-92-9) 24 sulfate (55566-30-8) 2-Butoxyethanol (111-76-2) 21 Polyethylene glycol (25322-68-3) 11 Sodium chloride (7647-14-5) 21 Ammonium chloride (12125-02-9) 10 Solvent naphtha.2. additives are often site and stored until they are mixed with the base stored in multiple.675 disclosures that met selected quality assurance criteria. hydrotreated light petroleum distillates).g. methanol) or chemical mixtures (e. (584-08-7) 44 1. thou- wells in FracFocus 1.8 million liters) of hydraulic ter resources.. Table ES-2. Percent of Percent of FracFocus 1. and February 28. Changes in drinking water quality can oc­ ditives delivered to the well site can be large. 2013. the total volume of ad.2-Dibromo-3-nitrilopropionamide 65 16 distillates (64742-47-8) (10222-01-2) Hydrochloric acid (7647-01-0) 65 Phenolic resin (9003-35-4) 14 Water (7732-18-5)c 48 Choline chloride (67-48-1) 14 Isopropanol (67-63-0) 47 Methenamine (100-97-0) 14 Ethylene glycol (107-21-1) 46 Carbonic acid. but spills volume of the injected fluid). 2011. While the overall container] and moved around the site in hoses and concentration of additives in hydraulic fracturing flu. chloric acid—were reported in 65% or more of the fracturing fluid are generally injected per well.4-Trimethylbenzene (95-63-6) 13 diammonium salt (7727-54-0) Sodium hydroxide (1310-73-2) 39 Quaternary ammonium compounds. closed containers [typically 200 fluid and proppant and pumped down the oil and gas gallons (760 liters) to 375 gallons (1. b Analysis considered 34. This equipment is designed to contain addi­ ids is generally small (typically 2% or less of the total tives and blended hydraulic fracturing fluid. these may be pure chemicals (e.0. in addition to proppants and base fluids.0 Chemical Name (CASRN)a Disclosuresb Chemical Name (CASRN)a Disclosuresb Methanol (67-56-1) 72 Naphthalene (91-20-3) 19 Hydrotreated light petroleum 2. Disclosures provided information on chemicals used at individual well sites between January 1. can occur. c Quartz and water were reported as ingredients in additives. 18 .0 FracFocus 1. Guar gum (9000-30-0) 37 benzyl-C12-16-alkyldimethyl. Chemicals reported in 10% or more of disclosures in FracFocus 1.420 liters) per production well (Text Box ES-7). Concentrated additives are delivered to the well As illustrated in Text Box ES-7. 35 chemicals were reported in sands of gallons of additives can be stored on site and at least 10% of the wells (Table ES-2).g. 12 chlorides (68424-85-1) Quartz (14808-60-7)c 36 Poly(oxy-1. petroleum.

and additives are blended together and pumped to the manifold. proppant. mix. Blender Water Tanks Manifold Chemical Additive Units Frac Head High Pressure Pump Source: Schlumberger Chemical Mixing Equipment Dictionary Blender Blends water. the composition of hydraulic fracturing fluids can vary during the hydraulic fracturing job. Source: Adapted from Olson (2011) and BJ Services Company (2009) Well Pad During Hydraulic Fracturing Equipment set up for hydraulic fracturing. Additives and proppant can be blended with water at different times and in different amounts during hydraulic fracturing. Water.Text Box ES-7: Chemical Mixing Equipment Typical Layout of Chemical Mixing Equipment This illustration shows how the different pieces of equipment fit together to contain. where high pressure pumps transfer the fluid to the frac head. and inject hydraulic fracturing fluid into a production well. and additives Chemical additive unit Transports additives to the site and stores additives onsite Flowback tanks Stores liquid that returns to the surface after hydraulic fracturing Frac head Connects hydraulic fracturing equipment to the production well High pressure pumps Pressurize mixed fluids before injection into the production well Hydration unit Creates and stores gels used in some hydraulic fracturing fluids Manifold Transfers fluids from the blender to the frac head Proppant Stores proppant (often sand) Water tanks Stores water 19 . Thus. proppant.

the environment to drinking water resources. ally. 2015c). the environmental fate friction reducers. and spill response draulic fracturing fluid. Be­ Studies of spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids or cause these factors influence whether spilled fluids additives provide insights on spill volumes. Several studies have documented spills of hydrau­ Spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids or additives lic fracturing fluids or additives.e. Among the 13 primarily caused by equipment failure or human er­ spills. but little reach groundwater and surface water resources. EPA. characteristics of the spill. spilled liquids are less able to move into (1. a study of Although impacts on surface water resources have spills reported to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conser­ been documented.130 liters). (e.500 liters). tanks. In the absence that often. but few specific chemicals activities (Figure ES-5). (2014) and Considine et al. These waters in Pennsylvania between January 2008 and spills were primarily caused by equipment failure June 2013. nine oil and gas well operators. Addition­ nine state agencies. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protec­ limiting the opportunity for spilled liquids to move tion. an EPA analysis of spill reports from (105 liters) to 7. Nearly all of these have reached. highly cellus Shale that occurred between January 2008 and permeable soils or fractured rock can allow spilled liq­ August 2011 from Notices of Violations issued by the uids to move quickly into and through the subsurface. Generally.. (2012) and nine hydraulic fracturing service companies identified fewer than 10 total instances of spills of characterized 151 spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids additives and/or hydraulic fracturing fluids greater or additives on or near well sites in 11 states between than 400 gallons (1. (2012) identified affect how spilled liquids move through soil into the spills related to oil and gas development in the Mar­ subsurface or over the land surface.800 liters). a part of the life of an oil and gas well severity of impacts were not available. Reported spill volumes for these spills (34% of the spills) or human error (25%). and trailers). Similarly. reported spill volumes ranged from 28 gallons ror. gels. For example.. site-specific studies that could be vation Commission identified 125 spills during well used to describe factors that affect the frequency or stimulation (i. Thirteen of the 151 spills characterized tabases. principles to identify factors that affect how hydrau­ 2014). crosslinkers.S. In low perme­ gallons (1. Of these spills. and blended hy­ and transport of the spilled fluid.400 gallons (13. Brantley et al. water or surface water resources depends on the Spilled fluids were often described as acids. totes.000 liters). includes hydraulic fractur­ of such studies. and more ranged from 3. Site-specific characteristics were mentioned. although the volumes spilled ranged from 5 The potential for spilled fluids to impact ground­ gallons (19 liters) to 19. we relied on fundamental scientific ing) between January 2010 and August 2013 (COGCC. but not always. 51% were caused by human er­ lic fracturing fluids and chemicals can move through ror and 46% were due to equipment failure. surface water studies identified spills from state-managed spill da­ resources.600 mixing stage of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle.000 liters) to 227. The authors identified spills greater than 400 over land to surface water resources. the subsurface and are more likely to move over the 1 A crosslinker is an additive that increases the thickness of gelled fluids by connecting polymer molecules in the gelled fluid. and therefore impacted. they information on chemical-specific spill composition. 20 . liters).500 liters) and spills less than 400 gallons ability soils.000 than 30% of the spills were from fluid storage units gallons (859.1 Considine et al. the ing water resources from spills during the chemical median volume of fluid spilled was 420 gallons (1.320 gallons (73. Data gathered for these studies suggest that by the EPA were reported to have reached a surface spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids or additives were water body (often creeks or streams).500 liters) that reached surface January 2006 and April 2012 (U.g.350 gallons (27. affect the frequency and severity of impacts on drink­ Among the 151 spills characterized by the EPA. biocides.

and thus EPI Suite™ could not be used to estimate their chemical and physical properties. the distance between the location of the spill and which depend on the identity and structure of a nearby water resources affects whether spilled liq­ chemical. the volume spilled and In general. The spills are generally more likely to reach drinking wa­ EPA identified measured or estimated chemical and ter resources because they are more likely to be able physical properties for 455 of the 1. Large-volume rate. 629 were not individual organic compounds. In either case. Generalized depiction of factors that influence whether spilled hydraulic fracturing fluids or additives reach drinking water resources. environmental fate and transport. Of the 1. EPI Suite™ is a collection of chemical and physical property and environmental fate estimation programs developed by the EPA and Syracuse Research Corporation. including spill characteristics. or move with water. 1 Chemical and physical properties were identified using EPI Suite™. and spill response activities.1 The properties of these chemicals varied Figure ES-5. 21 . stick to soil particles. chemical and physical properties.084 hydraulic fractur­ ing fluid chemicals identified by the EPA. and 2013. It can be used to estimate chemical and physical properties of individual organic compounds.land surface. control whether spilled chemicals evapo­ uids reach drinking water resources.084 chemicals to travel the distance between the location of the spill used in hydraulic fracturing fluids between 2005 and nearby water resources.

removal of contami­ nearby groundwater or surface water resources.1 Chemicals that move slowly through the to remove chemicals from groundwater resourc­ environment may act as longer-term sources of con­ es. 2 Human health hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing fluid chemicals are discussed in Chapter 9 and summarized in the “Chemicals in the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle” section below. Spill pre­ vention and response activities are influenced by Chemical Mixing Conclusions federal. 22 . little is Spill prevention practices and spill response ac­ publicly known about the severity of drinking water tivities are designed to prevent spilled fluids from impacts from spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids or reaching groundwater or surface water resources additives. Although the avail­ face water. widely. groundwater monitoring after spill events. Impacts on groundwater the receiving water resource. prevention practices and spill response activities. particularly of concentrated ad­ The severity of impacts on water quality from ditives. the can reach surface water resources. and the characteristics of or surface water resources. are also likely to result in more severe im­ spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids or additives de­ pacts on drinking water resources than small vol­ pends on the identity and amount of chemicals that ume spills because they can deliver a large quantity reach groundwater or surface water resources. nated soil).. Spill prevention and the magnitude and duration of impacts by reducing response activities are designed to prevent spilled the concentration of spilled chemicals in a drinking fluids from reaching groundwater or surface water water resource. from chemicals that are more likely to move have the potential to be more severe than impacts quickly through the environment with a spilled liq­ on surface water resources because it takes longer uid to chemicals that are more likely to move slowly to naturally reduce the concentration of chemicals through the environment because they stick to soil in groundwater and because it is generally difficult particles. groundwater. spills are more likely to travel longer distances to and clean up spilled fluids (e. Spill response activities include activities able data indicate that spills of various volumes taken to stop the spill. It was beyond the scope of this report Consequently. particularly in terms of tamination if spilled. Due to a lack of data. which is a simplified approximation of the real-world mixtures found in hydraulic fracturing fluids. Spill prevention practices include second­ during the chemical mixing stage of the hydraulic ary containment systems (e. fracturing water cycle have reached surface water which are designed to contain spilled fluids and pre­ resources in some cases and have the potential to vent them from reaching soil. or sur­ reach groundwater resources. large volume spills likely increase the to evaluate the implementation and efficacy of spill frequency of impacts on drinking water resources. contain spilled fluids (e. liners and berms). 1 These results describe how some hydraulic fracturing chemicals behave in infinitely dilute aqueous solutions.g.g. and local regulations and company Spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids and additives practices.. water resource size and flow rate) can affect characteristics of groundwater.2 Characteristics of the resources are likely to be more severe than impacts receiving groundwater or surface water resource on surface water resources because of the inherent (e.g. Large volume spills. The presence of other chemi­ cals in a mixture can affect the fate and transport of a chemical.. state.. and minimize impacts from spilled fluids.g. large volume deployment of emergency containment systems). the of potentially hazardous chemicals to groundwater toxicity of the chemicals. Impacts on groundwater resources resources and minimize impacts from spilled fluids.

cement. Casing decreases. 2 For comparison.. particularly where the well intersects oil-. Relationship to Drinking Water Resources Belowground pathways. including the production well itself and newly-created fractures. packers swell to fill the space between the outside of the casing and the surrounding rock or casing. 3 In a multi-stage hydraulic fracturing operation. EPA. designed and constructed to move fluids to and from During hydraulic fracturing. packers).000 pounds per square inch movement by creating a preferred flow pathway (i.1 An EPA survey of oil and gas production 212°F (100°C) to 64°F (18°C).2 A well can also experience movement (e.S.. layers of casing and cement within the drilled hole (Text the pressure applied to the well increases until the Box ES-2). As This is generally accomplished by installing multiple hydraulic fracturing fluid is injected into the well.3 Casing. then pressure gas-..e. A well can experience wells hydraulically fractured between approximately multiple pressure and temperature cycles if September 2009 and September 2010 suggests hydraulic fracturing is done in multiple stages or that hydraulically fractured wells are often. can allow hydraulic fracturing fluids or other fluids to reach underground drinking water resources. and/or water-bearing rock formations. H ydraulic fracturing fluids primarily move along two pathways during the well injection stage: the oil and gas production well and the newly-created that extend from the ground surface to below the designated drinking water resource is one of the primary well construction features that protects fracture network. in addition to other well components during hydraulic fracturing have been reported to (e. 2015d). two: surface casing and production casing (Text Box The fracture network created during hydraulic ES-2). targeted rock formation fractures. and other not always.000 psi (83 MPa). In some cases. can control hydraulic fracturing fluid range from less than 2. Among the wells surveyed. so that casing (U. a well is subjected the targeted rock formation without leaking and to to greater pressure and temperature changes than prevent fluid movement along the outside of the well.g. but if a well is re-fractured.g. The presence of multiple cemented casings fracturing is the other primary pathway along 1 Packers are mechanical devices installed with casing. from the inside of the casing to the temperature changes as cooler hydraulic fracturing surrounding environment or vertically along the fluid enters the warmer well. Maximum pressures applied to wells and cement. specific parts of the well are isolated and hydraulically fractured until the total desired length of the well has been hydraulically fractured. 23 . Once the casing is set in the drilled hole. casing well from the targeted rock formation to shallower temperatures have been observed to drop from formations). average atmospheric pressure is approximately 15 psi. Oil and gas production wells are underground drinking water resources. (psi) [14 megapascals (MPa)] to approximately inside the casing) and preventing unintentional fluid 12. constructed with multiple casings that well components need to be able to withstand have varying amounts of cement surrounding each these changes in pressure and temperature. hydraulic fracturing fluids can flow to the targeted the most common number of casings per well was rock formation without leaking.Well Injection The injection and movement of hydraulic fracturing fluids through the oil and gas production well and in the targeted rock formation. during any other activity in the life of the well.

well (pathways 2-5). and therefore impact. As a result. fracture growth was often on the order of tens to including during hydraulic fracturing. the mechanical formation and the characteristics of the hydraulic integrity of the well is an important factor that affects fracturing operation. the frequency and severity of impacts from the well particularly the natural stresses placed on the injection stage of the hydraulic fracturing water targeted rock formation due to the weight of the cycle. including can allow unintended fluid movement.. collected during hydraulic fracturing operations in The pathways shown in Figure ES-6 can exist five shale plays in the United States. Fracture production well itself and the fracture network growth during hydraulic fracturing is complex and created during hydraulic fracturing. In particular. In one case.929 feet (588 meters).. formation stresses. One percent of the fractures had a well because of exposure to corrosive chemicals. parallel to the ground surface) (Text Box ES-8). hydraulic 1 Mechanical integrity is the absence of significant leakage within or outside of the well components. fracture growth during hydraulic water resources if hydraulic fracturing fluids reach fracturing can be controlled by limiting the rate and groundwater resources. fracture height greater than 1... The existence of one or more Because hydraulic fracturing fluids are used to create of these pathways can result in impacts on drinking and grow fractures. Because the well depends on the characteristics of the targeted rock can be a pathway for fluid movement. the inside to the outside of the well (pathway 1 in perpendicular to the ground surface) or horizontally Figure ES-6) or vertically along the outside of the (i. either from whether newly-created fractures grow vertically (i. affect how the rock fractures. incomplete cement around the casing where (2012) indicate that the direction of fracture growth the well intersects with water-.e. and the maximum fracture height among all of the pressure and temperature changes during hydraulic data reported was 1. Changes in an overlying formation. These fracturing). Older wells may not currently available to the public. 24 . released from the targeted rock formation or other Publicly available data on fracture growth are formations during hydraulic fracturing travel along currently limited to microseismic and tiltmeter data these pathways to groundwater resources. The potential for hydraulic fracturing fluids where cement around the casing may be inadequate to reach. rock characteristics. drinking water resources is related to the pathways Examples of mechanical integrity problems along which hydraulic fracturing fluids primarily have been documented in hydraulically fractured move during hydraulic fracturing: the oil and gas oil and gas production wells. It is unknown whether these mechanical integrity over time have implications for observations apply to other hydraulically fractured older wells that are hydraulically fractured because rock formations because similar data from hydraulic these wells may not be able to withstand the stresses fracturing operations in other rock formations are applied during hydraulic fracturing.1 A well with insufficient mechanical integrity rock above. which hydraulic fracturing fluids move. or gas-bearing generally varied with depth and that upward vertical formations) or can develop over the well’s lifetime.148 feet (350 meters). In general. hundreds of feet in the shale formations studied casing and cement can degrade over the life of the (Text Box ES-8).g. underground or missing. Impacts on drinking volume of hydraulic fracturing fluid injected into the water resources can also occur if gases or liquids well.g. Analyses of these because of inadequate well design or construction data by Fisher and Warpinski (2012) and Davies et al. some hydraulically fractured reported fracture heights suggest that some fractures oil and gas production wells may develop one or more can grow out of the targeted rock formation and into of the pathways shown in Figure ES-6. (e. and operational stresses (e.e. also be hydraulically fractured at shallower depths. oil-.

Text Box ES-8: Fracture Growth Fracture growth during hydraulic fracturing is complex and depends on the characteristics of the targeted rock formation and the characteristics of the hydraulic fracturing operation. (2012) Niobrara 160 (50) 25 . approximately 2. Ground Surface Production Well When hydraulic fracturing occurs at depths greater than approximately 2.000 feet. between the fracture tip and the well. Therefore. Approximate Median Top Fracture Height Shale Play [feet (meters)] Eagle Ford 130 (40) Woodford 160 (50) Barnett 200 (60) Marcellus 400 (120) Source: Davies et al. the When hydraulic fracturing occurs at depths less than primary direction of fracture growth is vertical. Their data provide information on fracture heights in shale. the depth at which hydraulic fracturing occurs affects whether fractures grow vertically or horizontally. Fracture Height Fisher and Warpinski (2012) and Davies et al. Top fracture heights varied between shale plays and within individual shale plays. Niobrara. and Woodford shale plays. (2012) analyzed microseismic and tiltmeter data collected during thousands of hydraulic fracturing operations in the Barnett. Primary Direction of Fracture Growth In general. The top fracture height is the vertical distance upward from the well.000 feet. Eagle Ford. growth is horizontal. Marcellus. or parallel to the ground surface. the primary direction of fracture or perpendicular to the ground surface. the weight of the rock above the point of hydraulic fracturing affects the primary direction of fracture growth.

e. (3) microannuli between the casing and cement. Ohio. contributed to the impacted a groundwater resource. (4) gaps in cement due to poor cement quality. Methane can accumu­ late to explosive levels when allowed to exsolve (degas) from groundwater in closed environments. 26 . These pathways (represented by the white arrows) include: (1) a casing and tubing leak into the surrounding rock. resulting in a release of created during hydraulic fracturing. Because fluids 1 Although ingestion of methane is not considered to be toxic. movement of methane into local drinking water The potential for hydraulic fracturing fluids or resources.. Figure ES-6.1 In another case. Potential pathways for fluid movement in a cemented well. an inner string of casing other fluids to reach underground drinking water burst during hydraulic fracturing of an oil well near resources is also related to the fracture network Killdeer. and (5) microannuli between the cement and the surrounding rock. fracturing of an inadequately cemented gas well hydraulic fracturing fluids and formation fluids that in Bainbridge Township. This figure is intended to provide a conceptual illustration of pathways that can be present in a well and is not to scale. (2) an uncemented annulus (i. the space behind the casing). North Dakota. methane can pose a physical hazard.

as a pathways (e. these formations for drinking water.travel through the newly-created fractures.3. the injection to determine with certainty whether fractures of hydraulic fracturing fluids impacts the quality created during hydraulic fracturing have reached of the drinking water resource. the where oil and gas production wells are first drilled location of these fractures relative to underground vertically and then horizontally along the targeted drinking water resources is an important factor rock formation. with the activity bottom of underground drinking water resources.. damage to the formation.2 in Chapter 6. Data on the fractures created during hydraulic fracturing are relative location of induced fractures to underground unlikely to grow through thousands of feet of rock drinking water resources are generally not available. The two the potential for hydraulic fracturing fluids or example environments depicted in panels a and b other subsurface fluids to move to drinking water represent the range of separation distances shown in resources.g. or “frac hits. generally concentrated in some areas in the western Based on computer modeling studies. Wyoming. there are thousands of feet fracturing at one well has affected a nearby oil and gas between the bottom of the underground drinking well or its fracture network. the presence of other wells formation and underground drinking water near hydraulic fracturing operations can increase resources can vary across the United States. natural faults or fractures. Microseismic data and modeling affecting the frequency and severity of potential studies suggest that. we were often unable drinking water resource (Figure ES-7b). Birdsell et al. According to the underground drinking water resources. Regardless of the vertical separation between Figure ES-7 illustrates how the vertical the targeted rock formation and the underground separation distance between the targeted rock drinking water resource.. These well communication events. As the vertical separation distance between is of concern in the short-term if people are currently the targeted rock formation and the underground using these formations as a drinking water supply. and the Powder River Basin fracturing fluids would reach an overlying drinking of Montana and Wyoming).. 27 . 2015). In Figure ES-7a.g. or in the future could serve.. rock formation and the bottom of the underground Without these data. impacts on drinking water resources. well. because drought upward migration of hydraulic fracturing fluids to or other conditions may necessitate the future use of the drinking water resource increases (Birdsell et al. under these conditions. There have been cases in which hydraulic panel c. we information examined in this report.” 1 Section 6. into underground drinking water resources. United States (e. the likelihood of is also of concern in the long-term. These conditions are generally reflective nearby well. Haynesville Shale). resulting in unexpected water resource and the hydraulically fractured rock pressure increases at the nearby well. This wells). Instead. the Wind River Basin near (2015) concluded that it is less likely that hydraulic Pavillion. because fracture networks are infrequently mapped When drinking water resources are co-located and because there can be uncertainty in the depth with oil and gas resources and there is no vertical of the bottom of the underground drinking water separation between the hydraulically fractured resource at a specific location.g. or leaky drinking water source for public or private use. the overall considered the vertical separation distance between occurrence of hydraulic fracturing within a drinking hydraulically fractured rock formations and the water resource appears to be low. It drinking water resource decreases. or spills at the surface of the nearby of deep shale formations (e.1 Hydraulic fracturing water resource if (1) the vertical separation distance within drinking water resources introduces between the targeted rock formation and the drinking hydraulic fracturing fluid into formations that may water resource is large and (2) there are no open currently serve.

9 8. 2015d). 8.000 0 e 00 999 00 99 00 99 00 99 00 99 00 99 00 99 00 99 00 99 ≥1 9 0 tiv 99 00 2. 4. The location and cement have degraded over time. In panel a. 28 . 5. and an abandoned well in Pennsylvania produced a 30­ other locations. 7. 3.100 feet (335 meters) wells may be a significant issue in areas with historic apart. The separation distance is the distance along the well between the point of shallowest hydraulic fracturing in the well and the base of the protected groundwater resource (illustrated in panel a). there are thousands of feet between the base of the underground drinking water resource and the part of the well that is hydraulically fractured.9 5. For example. In these types of situations.9 3. Panel c shows the estimated distribution of separation distances for approximately 23. EPA.S. Abandoned wells near a well undergoing the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission hydraulic fracturing can provide a pathway for estimates that over 1 million wells were drilled in vertical fluid movement to drinking water resources the United States prior to the enactment of state if those wells were not properly plugged or if the plugs oil and gas regulations (IOGCC. (a) (b) Drinking Water Resource Drinking Water Resource No Vertical Separation Distance Drinking Water Resource and Targeted Rock Formation Separation Vertical Targeted Rock Formation Distance in Separation Measured Depth Distance 15.000 (c) Estimated Number of Wells 10. 6. 2.567 meters) away from a well studies estimate the number of abandoned wells undergoing hydraulic fracturing. Targeted Rock Formation Separation Distance in Measured Depth (feet) Figure ES-7. The error bars in panel c display 95% confidence intervals.000 5.9 6.9 9. 1. have been reported in New Mexico. For instance. 0 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- Ne 1. in the United States to be significant. Based on the available information.9 7. foot (9-meter) geyser of brine and gas for more than frac hits most commonly occur when multiple wells a week after hydraulic fracturing of a nearby gas well. Various up to 8.422 feet (2. 0. Panel b illustrates the co-location of ground water and oil and gas resources.000 oil and gas production wells hydraulically fractured by nine service companies between 2009 and 2019 (U.9 4. Frac hits have also been observed at wells oil and gas exploration and production. there is no separation between the shallowest point of hydraulic fracturing within the well and the bottom of the underground drinking water resource. Oklahoma. 2008). Examples of different subsurface environments in which hydraulic fracturing takes place. are drilled from the same surface location and when The potential for fluid movement along abandoned wells are spaced less than 1. and condition of many of these wells are unknown.9 ga - 9.

ed rock formation and is typically called “produced y Naturally-occurring organic compounds. mechanical integrity failures of cemented casing and thousands of feet of rock have allowed gases or liquids to move to underground between hydraulically fractured rock formations drinking water resources. the surface through the production well as a by-prod­ y Radioactive materials. Consequently. This latter definition of y Hydraulic fracturing chemicals and their chemi­ “produced water” is used in this report. sulfate. Additionally. and oil and grease. magnesium. and the direction of fluid flow reverses. The presence of multiple layers instances. The fluid that initially advanced laboratory equipment and techniques that returns to the surface after hydraulic fracturing is can detect and quantify chemicals in produced water. Produced water can contain many constituents. the mechanical integrity of the well and the vertical separation distance between the Well Injection Conclusions targeted rock formation and underground drinking Impacts on drinking water resources associated water resources are important factors that affect with the well injection stage of the hydraulic the frequency and severity of impacts on drinking fracturing water cycle have occurred in some water resources. including flowback. depending on the composition of the injected hydrau­ The amount of these constituents in produced lic fracturing fluid and the type of rock hydraulically water varies across the United States. including those composed from chloride. mostly hydraulic fracturing fluid and is sometimes In general. which often requires ing fluid to flow out of the well. that returns to (BTEX). the injection pressure applied to the oil or gas production well is re­ leased. This practice introduces hydraulic fracturing hydraulic fracturing water cycle. A fter hydraulic fracturing. and economic quantities of oil and/or gas that are bromide. Water that returns to the cium. including radium. xylenes fer to any water. Knowledge of the chemical composition of produced water comes from the collection and analy­ sis of produced water samples. caus­ fractured. the fluid that returns to the surface contains water y Salts. As time goes on. both within 29 . sodium. and uct of oil and gas production.and some states have programs to find and plug fluids into underground drinking water resources. produced water has been found to contain: called “flowback” (Text Box ES-9). and composition to the fluid naturally found in the target­ strontium. Relationship to Drinking Water Resources Spills of produced water can reach groundwater and surface water resources. cal transformation products. iron. toluene.” The term “produced water” is also used to re­ ing benzene. In particular. includ­ water. manganese. Produced Water Handling The on-site collection and handling of water that returns to the surface after hydraulic fracturing and the transportation of that water for disposal or reuse. and cal­ separated and collected. abandoned wells. including barium. surface during oil and gas production is similar in y Metals. hydraulic and underground drinking water resources can fracturing has occurred within underground reduce the frequency of impacts on drinking water drinking water resources in parts of the United resources during the well injection stage of the States. ethylbenzene.

For example.500 milligrams per detected in produced water from these formations. hydrocarbons (e.000 mg/L of total dissolved solids. As a result. liter (mg/L) of total dissolved solids to over 300. and duced water from the Marcellus Shale has been re­ radium. Produced water can contain hydraulic fracturing fluid. Vol­ 1 For comparison. and other chemicals. New chemicals that are formed when chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids undergo chemical reactions. rock formation. Water Produced Immediately After Hydraulic Fracturing Water Produced During Oil or Gas Production Generally. and chemical transformation products. Text Box ES-9: Produced Water from Hydraulically Fractured Oil and Gas Production Wells Water of varying quality is a byproduct of oil and gas production. proppant. thorium. 30 . including uranium. and its reaction and degradation products. and additives in hydraulic fracturing fluids. radioactive materials have been ported to range from less than 1. oil and gas).1 Shale very salty compared to produced water from coalbed and sandstone formations also commonly contain ra­ methane formations.000 Produced water volumes can vary by well. and among different rock formations. Formation water is often salty and can have different amounts and types of metals. the average salinity of seawater is approximately 35. degrade. Produced Water Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Chemical Transformation Products Base fluid. Produced wa­ formations has been reported to range from 170 mg/L ter from shale and tight gas formations is typically of total dissolved solids to nearly 43.000 mg/L. the fluid that initially returns to the surface is The fluid that returns to the surface when oil and/or gas is mostly a mixture of the injected hydraulic fracturing fluid produced generally resembles the formation water. formation water. and time after hydraulic fracturing. rock mg/L.. or transform. Produced Water Produced Water (Also called “flowback”) The volume of water produced per day immediately after hydraulic fracturing is generally greater than the volume of water produced per day when the well is also producing oil and/or gas. Formation Water Water naturally found in the pore spaces of the targeted rock formation. while produced water from coalbed methane formation. the salinity of pro­ dioactive materials. radioactive materials. The composition and volume of produced water varies by well. and time after hydraulic fracturing.g.

when ap­ systems are designed to contain produced water. ponds. can occur if produced water spills reach groundwa­ The spilled fluid flowed into Blacktail Creek and in­ ter or surface water resources. 31 . storage. age equipment.2 For example. Changes in drinking water quality of produced water spilled from a broken pipeline.300 liters) to 1. five spills greater than 42. A separate assessment of produced water of produced water need to be collected and handled spills reported to the California Office of Emergency at the well site.g. trucks or pipelines for disposal or reuse. however. EPA volume injected in the first 10 years after hydraulic (2015c). The volume of water produced per Services between January 2009 and December 2014 day generally decreases with time. flowback fluids overflowed in Kentucky in 2007.9 million conductivity. For example. decreas­ gallons (79. a the Missouri River.4 in Chapter 7. these observations are the United States. so the volumes reported that 18% of the spills impacted waterways handled on site immediately after hydraulic fractur­ (CCST. creeks. proximately 2.umes are often described in terms of the volume of duced water spills included hoses or lines and stor­ hydraulic fracturing fluid used to fracture the well. re­ fracturing [about 4 million gallons (15 million li­ ported spill volumes ranged from less than 170 gal­ ters) per well in the Marcellus Shale and the Barnett lons (640 liters) to almost 74. Of the spills Because of the large volumes used for hydraulic that were reported to have reached surface water. there were 12 spills greater than 21. In most of the Produced water flows from the well to on-site cases reviewed for this report. creased the concentration of chloride and the electri­ Produced water spills have been reported across cal conductivity of the creek. In U. 2 Groundwater impacts from produced water management practices are described in Chapter 8 and summarized in the “Wastewater Disposal and Reuse” section below. In comparison. and one was the first three years. and transportation report occurred in North Dakota in 2015. reported to have reached groundwater. documented impacts tanks or pits through a series of pipes or flowlines included elevated levels of salinity in groundwa­ (Text Box ES-10) before being transported offsite via ter and/or surface water resources. While pro­ the largest produced water spill reported in this duced water collection. In North Dakota. Figure ES-4 shows that wells in the Spills of produced water have reached ground­ Marcellus Shale typically produce 10-30% of the water and surface water resources.000 liters). In another example. hundreds of thousands to millions of gallons liters). 2015).S. Common sources of pro­ movement of produced water through the environ­ 1 See Section 7.. Elevat­ datasets reviewed for this report ranged from ap­ ed levels of electrical conductivity and chloride were proximately 340 gallons (1. Common causes Site-specific studies of historical produced wa­ of produced water spills included human error and ter releases highlight the role of local geology in the equipment leaks or failures.1 There were. or wetlands).000 gal­ also found downstream in the Little Muddy River and lons (3.800 liters) per spill.500 liters). some wells in the Barnett characterized were reported to have reached surface Shale have produced 100% of the volume injected in water (e. the types of impacts that can occur. 30 of the 225 (13%) produced water spills fracturing.000 spilled fluid reached the Acorn Fork Creek.000 gallons (280. gallons (11 million liters) in 2015. and one spill of 2.000 Shale].000 ing the pH of the creek and increasing the electrical gallons (160. Median spill volumes among the consistent with an increase in water salinity. ing can be much larger than the volumes handled Documented cases of water resource impacts when the well is producing oil and/or gas (Text Box from produced water spills provide insights into ES-9). pits holding small number of large volume spills. The for example.9 million gallons (11 million liters) spills can occur.

EPA) Produced Water Storage Immediately after Hydraulic Fracturing After hydraulic fracturing. Source: Adapted from Olson (2011) and BJ Services Company (2009) Produced Water Storage During Oil or Gas Production Water is generally produced throughout the life of an oil and gas production well. or aboveground disposal.” This water can be stored onsite in tanks or pits before being taken offsite for injection in Class II wells. (Source: U. Text Box ES-10: On-Site Storage of Produced Water Water that returns to the surface after hydraulic fracturing is collected and stored on site in pits or tanks. Water initially produced from the well after hydraulic fracturing is sometimes called “flowback.S.S. (Source: U. (Source: U. During oil and gas production. EPA) Left: Produced water storage tanks. reuse in other hydraulic fracturing operations. oil. the equipment on the well pad often includes the wellhead and storage tanks or pits for gas. (Source: U.S. water is returned to the surface. DOE/NETL) Right: Flowback tanks. Above: Flowback pit. Above: Produced water storage pit. EPA) 32 .S. and produced water.

fractured rock). saline pro­ on groundwater or surface water resources. In response.g. shutting off a pipeline).000 liters) of produced water. and the characteristics of the In this case. impacts from produced water spills can Spill response activities likely reduce the sever­ last for years. water was removed from the stream.. Produced water was also identified in deeper. Several cases of water Pennsylvania spilled approximately 11. Depending on the paths of least resistance) in the movement of pro­ flow rate and other properties of the groundwater duced water through the environment. Additionally. The authors suggest that pro­ through the environment. ity of impacts on groundwater and surface water resources from produced water spills. these stud­ water. Spill prevention and (e. Otton et al. less permeable greater levels of total dissolved solids than ground­ rock through natural fractures. 1 Human health hazards associated with chemicals detected in produced water are discussed in Chapter 9 and summa­ rized in the “Chemicals in the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle” section below. a dam was constructed to contain the spilled pro­ water resource. Produced Water Handling Conclusions in the North Dakota example noted above. using absorbent booms). through groundwater resources. groundwater resources (e. Whittemore (2007) described a site in Kansas constituents introduced into water resources (e. permeable duced water can have high levels of total dissolved rock. which flowed into gest that impacts are characterized by increases in a nearby stream. (2007) explored the release of groundwater or surface water resources.g.. spills of pro­ through thin soil and into the underlying.. duced water to primarily flow over the land surface The severity of impacts on water quality from to nearby surface water resources. where low permeability soils and rock caused pro­ flushing a stream with fresh water).ment. produced water from the pits flowed receiving water resource. reducing the spills of produced water depends on the identity and amount of produced water that infiltrated soil.. actions taken after the spills were designed to into groundwater resources. In another example. a pipeline leak in ter resources in some cases. large and the stream was flushed with fresh water. resource. the toxicity produced water and oil from two pits in Oklahoma. which affects how the spilled fluid moves less permeable rock. absor­ Spills of produced water during the produced bent booms were placed in the affected creek and water handling stage of the hydraulic fracturing wa­ contaminated soil and oil-coated ice were removed ter cycle have reached groundwater and surface wa­ from the site. remove produced water response activities can prevent spilled fluids from from the environment (e. potentially to groundwater or response activities reduced the severity of impacts surface water resources. 33 .. leading to longer-term stop produced water from entering the environment groundwater contamination. of those constituents. reaching groundwater or surface water resources and reduce the concentration of produced water and minimize impacts from spilled fluids.000 gallons resource impacts from produced water spills sug­ (42. How­ duced water can migrate downward through soil and ever.g. it was not possible to quantify how spill the site of the spill. Together. In amount of produced water constituents that reach contrast. In the absence of direct pathways to duced water.1 In particular. In both volume spills are more likely to travel further from examples. For example. When a spilled fluid has duced water moved into the deeper. the pipeline was shut the salinity of the affected groundwater or surface off. solids.g. the higher-density fluid can move downward ies highlight the role of preferential flow paths (i.e.

Kansas (5. other areas of the United States as well. including: the local availability of disposal meth­ in Pennsylvania was reused in other hydraulic frac­ ods. livestock water­ water in Class II wells is often cost-effective. wastewater directly to surface water or the land sur­ Disposal of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in Class face (e. Reuse in tion.1 Beneficial uses (e.516). which may reduce the availability of injec­ tion in Class II wells as a wastewater disposal option in these states. 34 . federal. and these management strategies ap­ of the above management strategies is referred to as pear to be concentrated in certain parts of the United “hydraulic fracturing wastewater. hydraulic fracturing operations.876).S. California. Wastewater Disposal and Reuse The disposal and reuse of hydraulic fracturing wastewater. 1 Hydraulic fracturing was the predominant stimulation practice. were commonly reported gas wells in general. wastewater treatment facilities.837). Although used to manage hydraulic fracturing wastewater. and flow rate of produced water. or irrigation). produced water from hydraulically fractured ticed to a much lesser extent compared to injection in oil and gas wells that is being managed through one Class II wells. Oklahoma (3. produced water from hydraulically frac­ tured oil and gas production wells is managed through injection in Class II wells. untreated siana (2. I n general. Disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste­ 2011 and 2014. If released to the land surface. Veil (2015) estimated that the western United States to manage produced wa­ 93% of produced water from the oil and gas indus­ ter from the oil and gas industry and have likely been try was injected in Class II wells in 2012. or various aboveg­ Nationwide. it is likely indicative of nation­ to have been used to manage produced water from wide management practices for hydraulic fracturing stimulated wells in Kern County. although available data on the use of these oil or gas production well.. approximately 90% of hydraulic agement choices are affected by cost and other fac­ fracturing wastewater from Marcellus Shale gas wells tors. evapora­ II wells has been associated with earthquakes in sev­ tion pits. under certain conditions. in particular. Loui­ lease treated or. Per­ this estimate included produced water from oil and colation pits. bers of active Class II disposal wells are found in Tex­ Aboveground disposal practices generally re­ as (7.448). For example. between wastewater.054) (U. and well operator preferences.g. state. the volume. and Illinois (1. Relationship to Drinking Water Resources Disposal practices can release inadequately treated or untreated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to groundwater and surface water resources. 2016). espe­ ing and irrigation) are also practiced in the western cially when a Class II disposal well is located within United States if the water quality is considered ac­ a reasonable distance from a hydraulically fractured ceptable. In this hydraulic fracturing wastewater are currently prac­ report. Evaporation ponds fracturing wastewater is mostly managed through and percolation pits have historically been used in injection in Class II wells. large num­ practices are incomplete. the quality of produced water.g. California updated its regulations in 2015 to prohibit the use of percolation pits for the disposal of fluids produced from stimulated wells. hydraulic fracturing operations is practiced in some and local regulations. aboveground disposal and reuse of round disposal practices (Text Box ES-11). reuse in other eral states. Other stimulation practices included acid fracturing and matrix acidizing. In particular..” Wastewater man­ States. dura­ turing operations in 2013 (Figure ES-4a). EPA. but at lower Available information suggests that hydraulic rates (approximately 5-20%).

Reused Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Class II wells are used to inject wastewater associated with oil and Reuse in other hydraulic fracturing operations depends on gas production underground. existing federal regulations generally prevent the direct release of wastewater pollutants to waters of the United States from onshore oil and gas extraction facilities east of the 98th meridian. Solid or liquid liquid waste to naturally by-products of the evaporate. although underground. Federal and state regulations affect aboveground disposal management options. in combination wastewater—is injected in Class II wells.Text Box ES-11: Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Management Produced water from hydraulically fractured oil and gas production wells is often. and local water demand for hydraulic fracturing. the cost or to enhance oil or gas production from nearby oil and gas associated with treatment and transportation of the wastewater. including release to surface water resources and land application. For example. Some wastewater treatment Evaporation ponds and facilities treat hydraulic percolation pits can be used fracturing wastewater for hydraulic fracturing and release the treated wastewater disposal. Fluids can be injected for disposal the quality and quantity of the available wastewater. Safe Drinking Water Act. However. produced water from hydraulically fractured wells) is generally managed through injection in Class II wells.. in the arid western portion of the continental United States (west of the 98th meridian). 35 . reuse in other hydraulic fracturing operations. and various aboveground disposal practices. wastewater to surface Evaporation ponds allow water. but not always. to make up hydraulic fracturing fluids at under the Underground Injection Control Program of the nearby hydraulic fracturing operations. this practice has been discontinued in most states. Percolation pits treatment process can be allow wastewater to move sent to landfills or injected into the ground. production wells. direct discharges of wastewater from onshore oil and gas extraction facilities to waters of the United States may be permitted if the produced water has a use in agriculture or wildlife propagation and meets established water quality criteria when discharged. Injection in Class II Wells Reuse in Other Hydraulic Fracturing Operations Most oil and gas wastewater—including hydraulic fracturing Hydraulic fracturing wastewater can be used. which are regulated with fresh water.e. Aboveground Disposal Practices Aboveground disposal of treated and untreated hydraulic fracturing wastewater can take many forms. considered a waste product to be managed. Hydraulic fracturing wastewater (i.

For example. and the discharges con­ tion suggest that other produced water constituents Other Includes road spreading. which are used in drinking water treatment. landfill. the aboveground disposal of hy­ levels were linked to increases in the concentration draulic fracturing wastewater. downstream drinking water facility and a shift to Impacts on drinking water resources from the more toxic brominated disinfection byproducts. Human health hazards associated with disinfection byproducts are described in Section 9.2 were unable to adequately remove the high levels of The scientific literature and recent data from the total dissolved solids found in produced water from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protec­ Marcellus Shale gas wells. 2 See Text Box 8-1 in Chapter 8. and 100% other disposal practices 90% Reuse in Oil and Gas Activities Percent of Total Volume of Wastewater Includes non-hydraulic fracturing oil 80% and gas activities 70% Centralized Waste Treatment 60% Wastewater is treated and either discharged to surface waters or 50% reused in other hydraulic fracturing 40% operations 30% Publicly-Owned Treatment Works Wastewater is treated and 20% discharged to surface waters 10% Underground Injection 0% Wastewater is injected into Class II 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 wells Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (2015).5. The wastewater treatment facilities surface waters. treated or untreated wastewater can move through tributed to elevated levels of total dissolved solids soil to groundwater resources. early mental Protection revised existing regulations to wastewater management practices in the Marcel­ prevent these discharges and also requested that oil lus Shale region in Pennsylvania included the use of and gas operators voluntarily stop bringing certain wastewater treatment facilities that released (i. can im­ of hazardous disinfection byproducts in at least one pact drinking water resources. 36 . Because the ultimate (particularly bromide) in the Monongahela River Ba­ fate of the wastewater can be groundwater or surface sin. the Pennsylvania Department of Environ­ water have been documented..6 in Chapter 9.e. Changes in wastewater management practices over time in the Marcellus Shale area of Pennsylvania. kinds of hydraulic fracturing wastewater to facilities discharged) treated wastewater to surface waters that discharge inadequately treated wastewater to (Figure ES-8). in particular.1 In aboveground disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste­ response. On-site Reuse in Hydraulic Fracturing Figure ES-8. In the Allegheny River Basin. elevated bromide water resources. 1 Disinfection byproducts form through chemical reactions between organic material and disinfectants.

discharges of inadequately treated in Texas prior to 1984. Kell (2011) reported 63 incidents of non­ Wastewater Disposal and Reuse Conclusions public water supply contamination from unlined or The aboveground disposal of hydraulic fractur­ inadequately constructed pits in Ohio between 1983 ing wastewater has impacted the quality of ground­ and 2007. groundwater is generally slow moving. Other cases of impacts have hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water been identified in several states. pits.. and radium) may have been The severity of impacts on drinking water re­ introduced to surface waters through the release of sources from the aboveground disposal of hydraulic inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewa­ fracturing wastewater depends on the volume and ter. Oklahoma. although impacts may not be eliminated. including percolation pits. severity of impacts on groundwater resources will Impacts on groundwater and surface water re­ also be influenced by soil and sediment properties sources from current and historic uses of lined and and other factors that control the movement or deg­ unlined pits. Pennsylvania. and 57 incidents of groundwater contami­ water and surface water resources in some instanc­ nation from unlined produced water disposal pits es. the use tile organic compounds in groundwater resources.g. in particular. strontium. For ex­ ample. residuals from the treatment of hydrau­ trast. In con­ Additionally. In particular. radium has been detected in stream quality of the discharged wastewater and the charac­ sediments at or near wastewater treatment facili­ teristics of the receiving water resource. and gas industry have been documented. including New Mex­ resources have contributed to elevated levels of haz­ ico. Based on document­ provide a direct pathway for contaminants to reach ed impacts on groundwater resources from unlined groundwater. The resources if they are not managed properly. 37 . Such sediments can migrate if can reduce the severity of impacts through dilution. ties that discharged inadequately treated hydraulic large surface water resources with high flow rates fracturing wastewater. of lined and unlined pits for the storage or disposal wastewater reaching surface water resources from of oil and gas wastewater has impacted surface and pit overflows. In general. and Wyoming. residuals can impact groundwater or surface water the resulting contamination can be long-lasting. Additionally.. they are disturbed during dredging or flood events. Wastewater management is dynamic. In particular. and wastewater reaching groundwater groundwater resources. Unlined pits. barium. in the oil radation of wastewater constituents.(e. and these tinuous or repeated discharges to the land surface. posal of hydraulic fracturing wastewater. the solids or liquids can lead to an accumulation of hydraulic fracturing that remain after treatment) are concentrated in the wastewater contaminants in groundwater from con­ constituents removed during treatment.4.1 Impacts ardous disinfection byproducts in at least one down­ among these cases included the detection of vola­ stream drinking water system. many states have implemented regulations that and recent changes in state regulations and practices prohibit percolation pits or unlined storage pits for have been made to limit impacts on groundwater and either hydraulic fracturing wastewater or oil and gas surface water resources from the aboveground dis­ wastewater in general.5 in Chapter 8. 1 See Section 8. resources through liner failures. which lic fracturing wastewater (i.e.

hepatotoxicity. including 1. immune system effects. The proper­ clude cancer. Produced water. Sources of information that met these criteria are listed in Table 9-1 of Chapter 9. 38 . and any chemical chemicals enter drinking water resources. During the chemical mixing stage of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. reproductive toxicity. the 1. In the context of this report. naturally occurring chemicals found in hydrau­ subsurface permeability) can affect whether and how lically fractured rock formations.606 chemicals that are associated with the hydrau­ for informing site-specific risk assessments. the local landscape.g. changes in blood chemistry. an individual clusion in this report. fractured rock formations. site-specific contains chemicals added to hydraulic fracturing flu­ characteristics (e. on the identity and amount with chronic oral exposure to these chemicals in­ of chemicals that enter the environment. 2 The EPA’s criteria for inclusion in this report are described in Section 9. the term “reference value” generally refers to reference values for noncancer effects occurring via the oral route of exposure and for chronic durations. As a first step 1.1. A reference value describes the dose of a chemical that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of adverse health effects. changes in body ties of a chemical influence how it moves and trans­ weight. cardiotoxicity. decreased terminal body weight. in part. forms in the environment and how it interacts with neurotoxicity.g.4. state. nine had than others because they are more likely to move toxicity values from the selected data sources (Table with water (e. and because the characteristics of produced water which is collected. persist in the environment ney/renal toxicity. handled.084 chemicals that were reported to have been In many stages of the hydraulic fracturing water used in hydraulic fracturing fluids between 2005 and cycle. which in­ transformation products (Text Box ES-9).. By evalu­ fluences how long people may be exposed to specific ating available data sources..1 in Chapter 9. Therefore..g. ternational sources that met the EPA’s criteria for in­ This list represents a national analysis.2 well would likely have a fraction of the chemicals on The EPA was able to identify chronic oral toxic­ this list and may have other chemicals that were not ity values from the selected data sources for 98 of included on this list. Additionally. and managed in the last are influenced by the geochemistry of hydraulically two stages of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. Of the chemicals hydraulic fracturing water cycle are of more concern most frequently reported to FracFocus 1. 1 Specifically. Potential human health hazards associated sources depends. the severity of impacts on drinking water re­ 2013. and soil and ids. An oral slope factor is an upper-bound estimate on the increased cancer risk from a lifetime oral exposure to an agent. and in­ fluids and 599 chemicals detected in produced water. chemicals are in­ Evaluating potential hazards from chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle is most useful at local and/or regional scales because chemical use tentionally added to water to alter its properties for for hydraulic fracturing can vary from well to well hydraulic fracturing (Text Box ES-6). we compiled a list of chemicals and at what concentrations. developmental tox­ (e. and/or affect icity (extra cervical ribs).0. spilled hydraulic fracturing fluid) to ES-3). liver and kidney toxicity. Critical effects for these chemicals include kid­ drinking water resources. and repro­ the human body. and human health.084 chemicals compiled toxicity values for chemicals in the hydrau­ reported to have been used in hydraulic fracturing lic fracturing water cycle from federal. chemicals that do not degrade). Chemicals in the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle C hemicals are present in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. the EPA compiled noncancer oral reference values and cancer oral slope factors (Chapter 9). the EPA lic fracturing water cycle. some chemicals in the ductive and developmental toxicity.

through their presence in drinking water. These data alone. kidney toxicity.2.9e Reproductive toxicity 11 Ethylene glycol (107-21-1) 2 c Kidney toxicity 47 Methanol (67-56-1) 2 c Extra cervical ribs 73 a “Chemical” refers to chemical substances with a single CASRN.957 disclosures that met selected quality assurance criteria. 39 .0 Disclosuresb Propargyl alcohol (107-19-7) 0. Chronic Oral Reference Value (milligrams per Percent of FracFocus Chemical Name (CASRN)a kilogram per day) Critical Effect 1. To understand hazards associated with chronic oral exposure to whether specific chemicals can affect human health these chemicals include liver toxicity. these may be pure chemicals (e..e. Chronic oral toxicity values from the selected data however.g.1c 23 in the liver Quaternary ammonium compounds. and chemical and physical proper­ criteria for inclusion in this report. physical. (i. and toxicological ing water cycle are known to be hazardous to human properties to place the severity of potential impacts health. e From the EPA Provisional Peer-Reviewed Toxicity Value database.606 chemicals identified by the EPA. reproductive and developmental toxic­ chemical concentrations in drinking water would be ity. c From the EPA Integrated Risk Information System database. d From the EPA Human Health Benchmarks for Pesticides database. text of factors that affect the likelihood of impacts (i.0.03c Neuro-developmental effects 11 Hemosiderin deposition 2-Butoxyethanol (111-76-2) 0. data on neurotoxicity. Available chronic oral reference values for hydraulic fracturing chemicals reported in 10% or more of disclosures in FracFocus 1.02c 19 weight Sodium chlorite (7758-19-2) 0. b Analysis considered 35.01 c Decreased pain sensitivity 13 Decreased terminal body Naphthalene (91-20-3) 0. and carcinogenesis. hydrotreated light petroleum distillates).e. potential assessments could be conducted at local and/or regional scales using the multi-criteria deci­ Chemicals in the Hydraulic Fracturing Water sion analysis approach outlined in Chapter 9.. In the absence of these data.Table ES-3. This ap­ Cycle Conclusions proach combines available chemical occurrence data Some of the chemicals in the hydraulic fractur­ with selected chemical. the toxicity of specific chemicals) into the con­ 173 had chronic oral toxicity values from federal. Potential human health water resources and human health... are insufficient to determine which chemi­ sources were identified for 120 of the 599 chemicals cals have the greatest potential to impact drinking detected in produced water. chlorides 0. state.002c Renal and hepatotoxicity 33 1.g.44d 12 weight gain (68424-85-1) Formic acid (64-18-6) 0. and international sources that met the EPA’s frequency of use. methanol) or chemical mixtures (e. ties relevant to environmental fate and transport). Decreased body weight and benzyl-C12-16-alkyldimethyl. relative hazard ues are included in Chapter 9. See Table 9-2 in Chapter 9. Chemical-specific toxicity val­ needed. Of the 1.4-Trimethylbenzene (95-63-6) 0.

and belowground locations of water ground drinking water resources during the well withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing.g. depths Additionally. to compare pre. during. or in the future hydraulic fracturing water cycle (e. we were able to identify factors that would have been possible to more completely iden­ likely result in more frequent or more severe im­ tify areas in the United States in which hydraulic pacts on drinking water resources. Thorough scientific investigations are often neces­ sary to narrow down the list of potential causes to a There can also be uncertainty in the location single source at site-specific cases of alleged impacts. migration. information on chemicals in the of groundwater resources that are.and post-hydraulic fracturing con­ In general. and after hydraulic fracturing were water resources and/or the factors that affect the scarce. and Parker County. In particular. Using these cases and other data. information. 40 . during. Site-specific cases of alleged impacts on under­ y Above. This includes information on the: activities affected drinking water resources. Specifically. However. including other oil and gas management practices. If comprehensive data about the locations of both drinking water resources and activities in the cle..g. and gas production wells. Data Gaps and Uncertainties T he information reviewed for this report included cases of impacts on drinking water resources from activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cy­ could be. not and after activities in the hydraulic fracturing water publicly available. either because it is not collected. Pennsylvania). Below. dling stages of the hydraulic fracturing water This is because the subsurface environment is com­ cycle take place. comprehensive information on the lo­ ditions are not usually collected or readily available. or transformation of hydrau­ that prevented us from drawing additional conclu­ lic fracturing-related chemicals in the environment sions about the potential for impacts on drinking before. we pro­ occurring. injection stage of the hydraulic fracturing water cy­ y Surface locations of hydraulically fractured oil cle are particularly challenging to understand (e. Pennsylvania.. local water quality data needed frequency and severity of impacts. including the disposal of activities. other industries. chemical iden­ 1 See Text Boxes 6-2 (Dimock. of drinking water resources. hydraulic fracturing water cycle were available. hydraulic fracturing water cycle to impact drinking In places where we know activities in the hy­ water resources and/or the factors that influence draulic fracturing water cycle have occurred or are the frequency or severity of impacts. it and analyses. the Ra- mixing. treatment residuals. Texas1). and the hydraulic fracturing water cycle may be one of y Locations of hydraulic fracturing wastewater several causes of impacts. cation of activities in the hydraulic fracturing water The limited amount of data collected before. data that could be used to characterize the vide perspective on the data gaps and uncertainties presence. Texas) in Chapter 6. activities in including data on fracture growth. In cases of alleged impacts. 6-3 (Raton Basin). used for drinking water are not always known. or prohibitively difficult to aggre­ cycle reduces the ability to determine whether these gate. observable. and produced water han­ ton Basin of Colorado. cycle is lacking. where the chemical methane migration in Dimock. well injection. there fracturing-related activities either directly interact were instances in which we were unable to form with drinking water resources or have the potential conclusions about the potential for activities in the to interact with drinking water resources. plex and belowground fluid movement is not directly y Belowground locations of hydraulic fracturing. and natural processes. and 6-4 (Parker County.

3 See Chapter 10.1 The identity and ing water resources. ture efforts could include. We fracturing water cycle also informs decisions about were.. chemicals identified in the hydraulic fracturing wa­ chemical. It also describes data gaps and uncertain­ for activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle to ties that limited our ability to draw additional con­ impact drinking water resources and the factors that clusions about impacts on drinking water resources affect the frequency and severity of those impacts. Toxicity of uncertainty. for example. concentration of these chemicals. Fu­ from activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. limited cases (i. 41 . and toxicological properties) is not com­ ter cycle.2 Given the large number of frequency or severity of impacts at the local level. their transfor­ Because of the significant data gaps and uncer­ mation products. able to estimate impact frequencies which chemicals would be appropriate to test for in some.3 The data used to develop these water impact. nor was sociated with hydraulic fracturing activities move it possible to calculate or estimate the national fre­ through the environment and interact with the hu­ quency of impacts on drinking water resources from man body. Report Conclusions T his report describes how activities in the hydrau­ lic fracturing water cycle can impact—and have impacted—drinking water resources and the factors tific information to support future efforts. and physical.0 (U. national es­ hydraulic fracturing fluid and/or produced water. and chemicals in produced water tainties in the available data. it was not possible to would be needed to characterize how chemicals as­ fully characterize the severity of impacts. groundwater Both types of information—what we know and what and surface water monitoring in areas with hydrau­ we do not know—provide stakeholders with scien­ lically fractured oil and gas production wells or tar­ 1 Chemical withholding rates in FracFocus have increased over time. 2015a). however.S. Identifying chemicals in the hydraulic activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. this missing information represents a sig­ plete.tity. frequency of use or occurrence. Well operators claimed at least one chemical nificant data gap that makes it difficult to fully un­ as confidential at more than 70% of wells reported derstand the severity of potential impacts on drink­ to FracFocus 1. estimates were often limited in geographic scope or Of the 1. EPA. Consequently.433 (89%) of the chemicals. however. spills of hydraulic frac­ when establishing pre-hydraulic fracturing baseline turing fluids or produced water and mechanical conditions and in the event of a suspected drinking integrity failures). although the severity of impacts.606 chemicals identified by the EPA in otherwise incomplete. The uncertainties and data gaps identified throughout this report can be used to identify future that influence the frequency and severity of those efforts to further our understanding of the potential impacts.e.0 between approximately March 2011 and April 2015 used at least one chemical that was claimed as confidential. Our inability to quantitatively deter­ values from these selected data sources were not mine a national impact frequency or to characterize available for 1. Konschnik and Dayalu (2016) reported that 92% of wells reported in FracFocus 2. 2 Chapter 9 describes the availability of data in other data sources. The quality of these data sources was not evaluated as part of this report. did not prevent us many of these chemicals have toxicity data available from qualitatively describing factors that affect the from other data sources. timates of impact frequencies for any stage of the 173 had toxicity values from sources that met the hydraulic fracturing water cycle have a high degree EPA’s criteria for inclusion in this report.

EPA 42 . these efforts. fracturing water cycle. hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas is a turing fluids and chemicals or produced water practice that continues to evolve.or regional. This report provides a foundation for wells with inadequate mechanical integrity. of groundwater resources. decision-makers could focus y Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing waste­ their attention on the combinations of hydraulic frac­ water in unlined pits. resulting in contamination turing water cycle activities and local. y Spills during the management of hydraulic frac­ Overall. environmental fate and transport and human health y Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly hazards associated with chemicals in the hydraulic into groundwater resources. in particular. the frequency and/or severity of impacts. impacts on drinking water larly in areas with limited or declining groundwa­ resources from activities in the hydraulic fracturing ter resources. while helping to reduce current vulner­ allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater abilities to drinking water resources. scale factors that are more likely than others to result in more frequent or more severe impacts. By focusing attention on the situa­ times or areas of low water availability. Evaluating the po­ that result in large volumes or high concentra­ tential for activities in the hydraulic fracturing water tions of chemicals reaching groundwater re­ cycle to impact drinking water resources will need to sources. keep pace with emerging technologies and new sci­ y Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into entific studies. These in­ The above combinations of activities and factors clude: highlight. particu­ tions described above.S. the vulnerability of ground­ water resources to activities in the hydraulic fractur­ y Water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing in ing water cycle. geted research programs to better characterize the resources. water cycle could be prevented or reduced. Source: U. and In the near term. Future efforts could identify y Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic frac­ additional vulnerabilities or other factors that affect turing wastewater to surface water resources.

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S. North Dakota. Front cover (inside): ©Daniel Hart Photography (2013). Environmental Protection Agency). EPA. Executive Summary. Front cover (bottom): Aerial photographs of hydraulic fracturing activities. Well Injection. U. Chemical Mixing. Photo Credits Front cover (top): Illustrations of activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle.S. 46 . Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States. All other images courtesy of the U. Produced Water Handling. and Wastewater Disposal and Reuse. Washington.S. Right: Springville Township. DC. Preferred Citation U. From left to right: Water Acquisition.S. Image ©J Henry Fair / Flights provided by LightHawk. Back cover: Top left image courtesy of U. Left: Near Williston. 2016. Pennsylvania. EPA. EPA/600/R-16/236ES. EPA (U.S. Back cover (inside): Daniel Hart. Image ©J Henry Fair / Flights provided by LightHawk. DOE/NETL. Used with permission. Office of Research and Development.

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Environmental Protection Agency Washington. DC 20460 Official Business Penalty for Private Use $300 Recycled/Recyclable Printed with vegetable-based ink on paper that contains a minimum of 50% post-consumer fiber and is processed chlorine free. .Office of Research and Development (8101R) U.S.