INFOGRAPHIC: The Facts on Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Use

EID Infographic

For years, anti-fracking activists have tried to argue that shale development poses “profound risks” to America’s water resources, purporting that it causes “extreme water withdrawals” or is “water intensive beyond anyone’s imagination.” But as EID’s new infographic shows, the facts tell a very different story.

In reality, agriculture, car washes, golf courses, and even residential lawn watering use billions of gallons more water than oil and gas producers.  In top oil and gas producing states – such as Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, and Michigan – shale development accounts for less than one percent of total water use.  In fact, a report from the University of Texas found that hydraulic fracturing is actually helping to shield Texas from water shortages because it is allowing the state to move away from using more water intensive energy resources.

These water usage rates of less than one percent across the country will only be reduced further, as water recycling continues to ramp up.  According to the Pennsylvania DEP, producers in the Marcellus are now recycling 90 percent of their flowback water, and that’s a trend that will continue.

Download EID’s new infographic — “The Facts on Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Use” – to get the real story on water use and shale development.



  1. Sharon says:

    Maybe you should source some of those “facts” you use on this “infographic.”

    • Hi Sharon, thanks for your continued interest in our blog. Here are the links to all the sources:

      The graph showing hydraulic fracturing accounts for only 0.3 percent of total U.S. freshwater consumption is based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Those data were originally compiled and summarized by Jesse Jenkins at The Energy Collective:

      You should also check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, which points out that agriculture alone accounts for 80 percent of all consumptive water use across the country. The number is greater than 90 percent in many parts of the arid West:

      New York City’s water consumption (four million gallons every six minutes) comes from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection:

      The car wash statistics come from a variety of sources, and can actually differ based upon several factors, including which time of year we’re looking at. A good summary of car wash statistics can be found here:

      Golf course usage is a similar situation, but the numbers above can be referenced at the Alliance for Water Efficiency:

      And, as you can see from data from the World Resources Institute, the water risk from oil and gas development is one of the lowest of any industry:

      Once again, thanks for being an avid reader of our blog, Sharon. Hopefully this addresses your concern.


      • Ryan says:

        Hi Katie,

        I am a biology major and chemistry minor at an undergraduate college, and would like to voice my view on your response to shannon. I find it a bit disheartening that you view watering of ones own personal lawn and equate that to the same effect that water use during fracking has on the environment. When you take a city like New York, whose population is other 8.3 million as of the 2012 US census, and say that this is the standard for water consumption by the American populace, you are attaching a label that discredits your argument. This is one of the largest concentrations of populace per square mile and it is expected that water consumption would be up. But consider this as well; it is not just about the water consumtion but also the chemicals that are washed into the surrounding area. The chemicals used by fracking companies have been shown to have advirse affects, and upon completion of my special projects topic for my chem 320 class, I would be more than happy to share with you my findings. And yes, the personal water use by americans also CAN flush chemicals into the surrounding area but when used correctly :, we can reduce this effect. Now, I would like to know how exactly you plan to administer Ethylene Glycol or a variety of the other chemicals that Fracking companies use? Chemical analysis by any knowledgeable chemists would see that unregulated use of chemicals is bad. And I understand that the practicality of what many environmentalist ask for is difficult to achieve. We, as a global community need energy but the way in which we address that need is very poor indeed. I will agree with some of the other proponents of your argument such as the use of agriculture to make a viable comparison, just not when you make claims such as personal use of water to justify the use of water in fracking. Its a tad bit out of context.



        • Hi Ryan, thanks for your comment.

          The comparison to NYC water consumption was not an attempt to suggest what you were insinuating. It was merely about putting water volume in context with other uses. We frequently hear that hydraulic fracturing requires “millions of gallons of water,” which sounds like a lot of water. But how much is it when compared to other activities that occur around us every day? It was purely about helping people understand what a given volume of water means.

          Also, the additives used during hydraulic fracturing are not “unregulated” as you claimed. In addition to state regulations, federal rules administered by the U.S. EPA also apply if there are any spills or other discharges. You can learn more about that here: and here:

  2. Joe blow says:

    Fracking water is intentionally blended with carcinogens and other toxic chemicals, polluting our world at record rates, for the profit of a few. This is occurring without accountability and protections from the Clean Water Act. This is also occurring when alternate energy sources could be used which gave minimal negative impacts to our environment and health. And he estimated volumns of Fracking gas exports counters your ba promotions of energy independence.


  1. […] EID reported, shale development accounts for only about 0.3 percent of total U.S. freshwater consumption. Even […]

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