13 Jan

What Is Fracking? What Does It Have To Do With My Water?

Fracking is a term we’ve been hearing about in the news lately. Some cities and states are beginning to ban the practice. What is fracking, and why should you know about it?

What Is Fracking?

Hydraulic Fracturing, or fracking, is the process of drilling under several layers of geological structures, fracturing the rock formations, and injecting a combination of chemicals, sand, and water at very high pressure to create a reaction within the rock to release it’s natural gas. The type of rock with gas and oil underneath is called shale. 

what is fracking

The basics of fracking.

 

What Does It Have To Do With My Water?

The practice of fracking requires the drilling company to drill past the water tables to reach the underlying oil and gas. The risk of chemical exposure to the water is high. Done correctly, the fracking process simply by-passes the water. However, this is the central debate around the practice of fracking; is the groundwater being contaminated? If so, with what?

Another issue with fracking is the practice uses massive amounts of fresh water, and once the water is chemically treated, the practice leaves behind a toxic liquid waste.

Why Is It A Big Deal?

Fracking forces apart the shale rocks to tap into the source of oil and gas, but it can cause damage to non-oil bearing rocks as well, resulting in methane forcing it’s way upward to the surface, contaminating the water you drink. You may have seen a video on news stories of someone lighting their kitchen faucet water on fire. That is a perfect example of fracking contamination. 

Fracking is allowed in many parts of the country, and the central debate around fracking is that no one knows what chemicals are being used to create the flow of natural gas to the surface. The companies argue that disclosing this information puts their business model at risk, and the government doesn’t require them to disclose what their secret chemical recipe is. 

Alternatives

Knowing the potential environmental cost to traditional fracking, companies are innovating to make the practice more environmentally friendly. For example, a company called GasFrac has created a system that uses a gel fluid containing propane. This eliminates the need for water, and the gel holds the sand better, improving on the current practice. Other companies are working to plug methane leaks, recycle the water used for fracking, and switching the equipment used from diesel to gas to help reduce the practice’s carbon emissions.

Is Oregon Fracking?

Currently, there are no fracking sites in Oregon. The Coos Bay basin in Southern Oregon was the site of nine fracked wells, but they are not active right now. A U.S. based company has taken interest in using geothermal energy extraction techniques to harness the power of some of Central Oregon’s dormant volcanoes, and is currently working through the early stages of the project.

This kind of stuff is pretty thick and chewy to get through and understand. However, here at Casey’s we value saving water and keeping it clean. We want our customers to be informed about what is happening around them, and provide them the tools and information they need to make decisions about their water use. Here are some of our favorite water conservation tips:

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About Karen Mares

A Portlander born and raised, Karen lives in Southwest Portland with her husband and children. Karen has kept journals throughout her life, and she began her personal blog, Random Thoughts From A Suburban Mom in 2007. She hasn't stopped writing online since, channeling her passion for words and information into writing and communicating through social media and blogging.