COMPARISON BETWEEN WATER WITHDRAWALS FOR FRACKING AND SURFACE WATER AVAILABILITY IN THE UTICA SHALE, BELMONT COUNTY, OHIO, USA
In 2014, Belmont County predicted the total volume of freshwater withdrawals for natural gas production to be 545,960,000 gal, comparable to the 536,360,706 gal of fresh water actually withdrawn for this use. Data indicates that the 2013 total freshwater withdrawal (16,927,168 gal) from Captina Creek in Belmont County is 0.05% of the 2013 average drainage (37,420,000,000 gal/year). Fracking companies proposed to reuse 3,250,000 gal of recycled fracking wastewater water in the county; however, the total volume reported of recycled water used is zero. This may be due to well companies not reporting these values to FracFocus.
The expanding drilling activity within Belmont County, Ohio will increase the demand for water supplies. The consumption of surface water withdrawals from drilling has potential to impact the surrounding environment. Decreasing water volumes can affect the abundance of wetlands, which are an important buffer to sustain sensitive habitats, such as those along Captina Creek. Therefore, it is important to monitor the utilization of freshwater supplies for environmental, public, and natural gas production. Further research is necessary to illustrate the current impact of freshwater withdrawals from increasing gas production on surface water volumes.