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The Revelator, a publication of the Center for Biological Diversity, reported on a new study that found that “fresh” groundwater is 50% less plentiful in several key U.S. regions than scientists previously believed. Therefore, digging deeper to find groundwater that is drinkable (not too salty or contaminated) is an increasingly infeasible answer to water shortages across the country.
The scientists from the University of Arizona found that groundwater aquifers are being depleted not only by excessive withdrawals but also by the oil and gas industry contaminating deep groundwater supplies by using those areas to withdraw water and/or inject contaminated water that is a byproduct of fracking.
In many regions, the oil and gas industry uses “pore” spaces for energy production and waste disposal and those uses are rendering many deep water aquifers contaminated.
In the past, digging deeper to find usable water underground has been a successful source of fresh water, but that deep groundwater needs to be fresh and free of contaminants.
The researchers found that the oil and gas industry uses fresh and brackish water, both of which are drawn from the deep aquifers, which is another reason for the shortages.
For example, the scientists found that in Wyoming and the Michigan, where oil and gas activities are relatively shallow and in close proximity to fresh and brackish water, there is a greater chance that those activities contaminate important groundwater resources. In fact, the water supply in Pavillion, Wyoming has already been contaminated by oil and gas activity.
Why This Matters: We are sucking water out of the ground at unsustainable rates, particularly in areas that have already depleted surface water supplies, like the Central Valley of California. But we are also using up and contaminating our deep groundwater supplies in other parts of the country due to fracking. It is like finding out that your savings account is only worth half what you thought. Climate change is creating droughts and water shortages, and now we are making both climate change and water supply challenges worse by fracking for oil and gas. We may need the water in the long run more for drinking than for fracking for oil and gas extraction. Yet another reason why we must wean ourselves off fossil fuels.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer While all eyes were on Texas last month, another part of the U.S. has been dealing with its own water crisis. Parts of Jackson, Mississippi have been without water for almost 3 weeks after cold weather swept through the region. Thousands of people, predominantly people of color, have been impacted by the shortage […]
While more than one million Texans are still living without running water, Democratic lawmakers and advocates across the nation are urging President Biden to back a water infrastructure bill that would commit $35 billion to update and climate-proof the nation’s water infrastructure.
Why This Matters: The Guardian reports that a majority of water and waste systems in the U.S. are unprepared to deal with the increasing impacts of climate change.
Why This Matters: The states failed to reach a water compact more than a decade ago — now they have nowhere else to go but the Supreme Court, which has “original jurisdiction” over a dispute between two states.
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