Tuesday, April 5, 2011

See Top 9 Water Users and Where Drillers Rank

The total of all water withdrawn by all users from Pennsylvania's surface and ground waters is 9.48 BILLION gallons per day.

And which industries use most of that water?  Many would say gas drillers would be the biggest user or near the top of the list.

Marcellus gas drilling uses 1.9 million gallons or about 0.2% of all the daily water withdrawn.  They are the smallest major water user in Pennsylvania, ranking 9th out of 9 top users.

The biggest user or Number 1 are power plants at 6.43 billion gallons per day.

Number 2 is public water suppliers at 1.42 billion gallons per day.

The rest of the users are in the millions, not billions category.

Number 3 are industrial users at 770 million gallons per day.

Number 4 is aquaculture at 524 million gallons per day.

Number 5 is domestic water supply (private water wells) at 152 million gallons per day.

Number 6 is mining at 95.7 million gallons per day.

Number 7 is livestock at 61.8 million gallons per day.

Number 8 is irrigation at 24.3 million gallons per day.

And Number 9 are Marcellus Drillers at 1.9 million gallons per day.

All that data comes from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, in an article, entitled Straight Talk, written by its Executive Director, John Arway, and published in the January/February 2011 edition of Pennsylvania Angler & Boater.


  1. I'm not really sure what you're getting at here. I'm not sure who the "many would say" you are referring to is. The only folks who are saying things about drillers are those politically engaged on the issue. Those that are: from the local groups likes the Responsible Drilling Alliance up thru professional groups like PennEnvironment, know that deep shale drillers withdraw relatively little water. The issue is what they do with it.

    What we know is that hydrofracking is different in two really important ways:

    1) Most of the water used leaves the system forever, stays in the well bore. That is, until the cement casing fails.

    -- Sure, power plants use lots of water, but it goes back into the water cycle. Marcellus water is mostly locked underground forever, never to return.

    2) Marcellus drilling generates the nastiest, dirties water of any industry.
    --And everywhere deep shale drilling goes, streams get worse, people get really sick, air gets bad like in Dish, Texas.

    And, on some level, there's a third point - deep shale drilling has barely even gotten started in this state. The amount of nasty water, the amount used and the nastiness of the impact is only going to get worse.

    Anyway... unless you're going to point out that power plants may use lots of water but that it basically all gets discharged back into the system or becomes steam and reenters the water cycle that way, I don't know that you are really giving your readers all the facts. It's the proverbial apples and oranges.

    Natural gas drilling permanently removes water from the global water cycle, and that's a very, very important difference.

  2. Brady:

    Your comment about the difference between water lost to the water system and water used and return is valid.

    I have talked to many "regular" citizens who have the impression that the water withdrawn for drilling is enormous. 1.9 million gallons per day is not inconsequential but comparatively speaking it is small. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in 2008 appropriately required drillers at the time they make application for a drilling permit to file a water plan. The water plan must include the source of the water to be used to drill. If the source is a river or stream the withdrawal is measured against the flow in the river during a drought. Only if the withdrawal would not damage a stream in a drought is it authorized. The Pa Water Plan requirement is important regulation and must be enforced.

  3. Brady,
    The 1.9 million gallons per day used by Marcellus gas drillers represents about 0.002% of the precipitation that occurs in PA every year.