Monday, July 27, 2009

Serious Problem: We Can't Drink Natural Gas!!

This is getting serious. There is a statewide drought going on and the water usage of residents in many Texas towns is being closely monitored. Meanwhile the gas drilling companies get to continue their excessive waste and contamination of our most precious and life sustaining resource....FRESH, CLEAN, DRINKING WATER!!!

Just below the CNBC article is a great article called Hydraulic Fracturing: Your Money or Your Life. It talks about how gas drilling is impacting our environment in more ways than water waste.

Natural gas drilling is permanently altering our hydrological cycle. Using a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, 1 to 5 million gallons of potable water, mixed with chemicals and sand are pumped under pressure down the drilling hole to release the gas trapped deep in the earth. During its lifetime, a well may be refracked as many as 18 times.

Of course we will never know exactly how much water the gas industry uses since they get to self report their usage.

Fox estimates that the recent natural gas drilling expansion has wasted over 40 Trillion gallons of potable water. That figure only considers the initial fracking. Since water usage is largely self reported by the industry, no one knows the true figure. The water used to produce natural gas is not sustainable.

Police are patrolling neighborhoods in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio looking for citizens who are violating the water restrictions. Many are being fined. There are towns in Texas that could be out of fresh drinking water soon.

All this and no mention of any restrictions for the one process that wastes and contaminates more water than humans or any other industry, the GAS DRILLING AND THE HYDRAULIC FRACKING PROCESS. Folks, we can't drink natural gas.

Drought turning Texas as dry as toast
Water restrictions lead to extreme conservation efforts

John Davenport / Zuma Press

DALLAS - Off-duty police officers are patrolling streets, looking for people illegally watering their lawns and gardens. Residents are encouraged to stealthily rat out water scofflaws on a 24-hour hot line. One Texas lake has dipped so low that stolen cars dumped years ago are peeking up through the waterline.

The nation's most drought-stricken state is deep-frying under relentless 100-degree days and waterways are drying up, especially in the hardest-hit area covering about 350 miles across south-central Texas. That's making folks worried about the water supply — and how long it might last.

"The water table's fallin' and fallin' and fallin,' like a whole lot of other people around here," said Wendell McLeod, general manager of Liberty Hill Water Supply Corp. and a 60-year resident of the town northwest of Austin. "This is the worst I can recall seeing it. I tell you, it's just pretty bleak."

There are 230 Texas public water systems under mandatory water restrictions, including those in and near San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Austin. Another 60 or so have asked for voluntary cutbacks. Water levels are down significantly in lakes, rivers and wells around Texas.

Liberty Hill's Web site urges its 1,400 or so residents in all-red letters to stop using unnecessary water with this plea: "If we follow these strict guidelines, we may have drinking water." The town's shortage eased some with the arrival this week of 35,000 gallons a day from a nearby water system, but residents are still worried.

77 Texas counties in severe drought. According to drought statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 77 of Texas' 254 counties are in extreme or exceptional drought, the most severe categories. No other state in the continental U.S. has even one area in those categories. John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas state climatologist at Texas A&M University, said he expects harsh drought conditions to last at least another month.

In the bone-dry San Antonio-Austin area, the conditions that started in 2007 are being compared to the devastating drought of the 1950s. There have been 36 days of 100 degrees or more this year in an area where there are usually closer to 12.

Among the most obvious problems are the lack of water in Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan near Austin, two massive reservoirs along the Colorado River that provide drinking water for more than 1 million people and also are popular boating and swimming spots. Streams and tributaries that feed the lakes have "all but dried up," according to the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Lake Travis is more empty than full, down 54 percent. All but one of the 12 boating ramps are closed because they no longer reach the water, and the last may go soon. The receding waters have even revealed old stolen cars shoved into the lake years ago, authorities said.
There's no threat to the area's drinking water supply, Rose said, but there are increased boating hazards from the "sometimes islands" that pop up when the water's low, increased risk of wildfires, and more interactions between humans and wildlife.
"We're seeing deer and armadillo and other animals in places we don't typically see them," he said. "They're starving for water and food."

At the Oasis, a popular restaurant with a deck overlooking Lake Travis, the islands are even starting to grow heavy vegetation.
"You can see all the white on the rocks where the waterline used to be," said Becca Torbert, a server at the restaurant who says the boat traffic is down, but the water is down even more.

San Antonio policing water offenders. San Antonio, which relies on the Edwards Aquifer for its water, is enduring its driest 23-month period since weather data was recorded starting in 1885, according to the National Weather Service. The aquifer's been hovering just above 640 feet deep, and if it dips below that the city will issue its harshest watering restrictions yet.

The city's not just sitting around, though. A total of 30 off-duty officers and other employees are working overtime to patrol the city looking for people illegally watering. Since April, about 1,500 people have been cited and ordered to pay fines ranging from $50 to over $1,000. Residents also are encouraged to rat out water scofflaws on the 24-hour Water Waste Hot Line.

"We don't go out in a car with sirens blazing or anything like that, but we do take the report and send out a letter saying 'You've been reported for not following water rules,'" said Anne Hayden, spokeswoman for the San Antonio Water System.

There have been smatterings of light rain in the area this week, but not enough to make much difference. But hopefully, the end is in sight. Victor Murphy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said an El Nino system is developing in the Pacific Ocean. That phenomenon is usually followed by increased rainfall in Texas in the fall.
McLeod, from Liberty City, hopes his little town can hang on till then.
"I don't know how we can," he said. "I try not to look too far ahead."

Hydraulic Fracturing: Your Money or Your Life

Natural gas drilling is permanently altering our hydrological cycle. Using a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, 1 to 5 million gallons of potable water, mixed with chemicals and sand are pumped under pressure down the drilling hole to release the gas trapped deep in the earth. During its lifetime, a well may be refracked as many as 18 times. The water that returns—30 to 70%--is called flowback and can contain the drilling chemicals plus hydrocarbons from the formation and naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). This toxic witch’s brew requires disposal, usually into an injection/disposal well where it is injected deep into the earth under a “containment” barrier—a permanent withdrawal from our overall water budget. People laughed at me or dismissed my theory—easily intimidated, I shut up. I read Principles of Hydrogeology by Dr. Paul F. Hudak and contacted him with my question. Below is his reply:

Disposing used water into deep injection wells essentially removes it from the active hydrologic cycle. Conceivably, it could return to the active cycle at some very distant point in the future (speaking in geologic terms, well beyond human time frames.) This presumes no leakage through the well casing or nearby abandoned and unplugged wells, which could facilitate upward migration.

Dr. Paul F. Hudak Department of Geography University of North Texas.

"I believe this practice plays a big role in driving our perpetual drought." Josh Fox traveled across the country filming his upcoming documentary, Water Under Attack. In the trailer to his documentary, Fox estimates that the recent natural gas drilling expansion has wasted over 40 Trillion gallons of potable water. That figure only considers the initial fracking. Since water usage is largely self reported by the industry, no one knows the true figure. The water used to produce natural gas is not sustainable. Water recycling technology is available but only a tiny fraction of drilling water is recycled.


Anonymous said...

Industrial and residential waste of water has been an ongoing issue for decades. The textile and plating industries in this state and the country as a whole, waste millions upon millions of gallons of water per day. Residential lawn water waste is the single largest waste of water in Texas. Golf courses on average use one million gallons per day when reseeding tee boxes fairways and greens, and use half that on a normal day. You do not mention some local gas drilling companies that are spending millions of dollars purchasing new technology to recycle water. Can Tour 18 do that? Everyone should do their utmost to conderve water. But, please be fair in your blog articles. Drilling within neighborhoods is unfair to most, some frac fluids can be dangerous, but to consistantly single out one industry for our nations water woes, is quite ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I would love to be fair but the gas drilling industry is the only industry that is exempt from the Clean Water Act. Others industries that violate it get fined. Is that fair? This blog is about gas drilling regulation/accountability and all environment, health and over all quality of life issues related to gas drilling. Gas drilling companies get around city water restrictions by trucking in their water. They are allowed to self regulate some of their practices. Yes, I am sure they buy some water from private owners but they also get it from the same sources our cities do. I have yet to read one article that states, "Gas Drilling under water restriction". Yet I find numerous articles on restrictions for residents, golf courses,and agriculture. Other industries are being asked to conserve and follow restrictions as well.

Yes some do use technology to recycle water but most can only recover 24 percent of the contaminated water. Many don't bother because of the higher cost of doing it right cuts into their profit. See the article below.

"Oklahoma-based Devon Energy Corp. has used a Canadian water treatment technology since 2005 to reclaim and recycle some of the flow-back water and some of the produced water. Devon’s nine mobile heated distillation units, or NOMADs, reclaim and recycle about 24 percent of the 3.5 million gallons of water used during the fracing processes."

"Natural gas operators are examining water recycling as a method to curtail their water usage and demand, but current technology still renders the process less economical than the alternative of simply disposing of the post-drilling, contaminated fluid."

Anonymous said...

Of course when you say "waste" in the context of the industry's use of water, you are simply stating your opinion and nothing more.

When you are in the shower and lathering, and you stand away from the water, I consider that waste.

Every time you leave the sink running when not in use, such as when you brush your teeth, etc.. I consider that waste.

What I consider waste is different than what you consider waste. Every time you bring strong opinions into your articles, it makes the argument seem weaker and weaker.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, no matter how you spin it, gas drilling still requires an excessive amount of water that can't be used again. Period.

Anonymous said...

And what does your statement have to do with the efforts of this organization? They are against urban gas drilling because they believe that it provides an unsafe environment blah blah you can read it at the top of their blog.

Now "water waste" is brought to the table.

So what are you fighting for?

Anonymous said...

What are YOU fighting for? Whether or not you can drill that very last remaining site in Flower Mound? You will still get your hot water and warmth in the winter. Does an individual home owner really need to fight that hard to drill in Flower Mound or is it only the drive that could be derived from someone who stands to directly profit from it? Do we NEED gas wells in neighborhoods? You can drill the other 99% of well sites in this country NOT in neighborhoods and still have all of your precious gas. Drill Alaska first, where the chance of selling a home is not diminished, and when we run out, then you can come back and ask. I've never understood what people on the other side of this are fighting for and where they draw the line.
Would any of you draw the line, ANYWHERE? How close is too close, or can we drill 300 feet from a home? Who is fanatical, the person who MUST drill EVERY last damn site, or the person who asks for the last 1% of restraint for the most minor and common sense restrictions. I am about as pro-business as you can get, but you have to draw the line somewhere and you can't make a profit at the expense of someone else. Good business fines a way to make a profit and not harm anyone else in the process. If you can't do that, then you are selfish person and even worse at business.

Anonymous said...

I just read the mission statement and I think it is pretty clear what this blog is about. It is about quality of life, health, safety, protecting our natural resources that we need to survive and making the gas companys more responsible and accountable. They hide under the rule of Texas Railroad Commission, which is the biggest joke and the biggest waste of our tax dollars, have numerous tax breaks and exemptions from the EPA etc. I agree with the last poster, you wouldn't be happy unless every open space in FM had a gas well and this blog praised the gas company gluttons. Making sure that never happens is what I am fighting for.

Anonymous said...

Well, then you are fighting under a shroud of bias, misinformation, and overreaction.

You bring in issues that do not relate directly with the whole mission of this group to try and make your root argument stronger.

You hold the view that if one neighbor leases, they are doing their other neighbors a disservice.

You are misinformed about the effectiveness of the Railroad Commission, and the fact that it is actually very efficient and effective at doing the enormous job that it does. You don't see it that way because you are biased in your own little world towards them because of what you perceive to be happening. You believe it to be a waste of our tax dollars simply based on YOUR miniscule experience. Please, correct me if I am wrong. If you have any experience dealing with them personally, or if you are in the industry and work with them, please speak up. If not, you opinion is formed with bias, narrowness, and misinformation.

Even worse is your assertion that the tax incentives (key word: INCENTIVES) that the companies and their investors receive are inappropriate and unacceptable. Unless I am completely underestimating you, you have no idea what the scope of those incentives are, what they are designed to do, how and why they have helped to prop the industry up for years, and who they affect.

If you are going to come out swinging, that is fine, but please be prepared to be called on for the biased misinformation that you spew.

Anonymous said...

So you have FIRST HAND knowledge of working with the TRRC? That would mean, you either work for Texas RR Commission, OR work for industry, OR own acerage where a prospect drill site is (is proposed) OR you are just as naive as the poster you just commented on. Anyway you slice it, that doesn't look good for you.