The NYT today has a front page story that creates the dramatic impression that gas drilling is using so much water that it is harming farmers. The piece is hype that burries in a flood of words two facts revealing the concocted story frame to be false and misleading.
If you get beyond the headline and off the front page, you learn that gas drilling in Colorado uses somewhere between 0.1% and 0.2% of all water. That's about what it does in Pennsylvania too.
The range of disagreement about water usage in Colorado between the gas industry and its most vociferous critics is literally 0.1%, with the industry saying it uses 0.1% of all water and the critics insisting its 0.2%.
Another way to state the numbers would be that the gas industry does not use 99.8% to 99.9% of all the water consumed in Colorado. And the industry and its critics agree on those facts.
Now every drop of water is important, especially in a drought, and every user of water should conserve water, no matter how big or small they are. And the gas industry must conserve too, but its water recycling effort is more than many are doing.
When the gas industry uses about 1 out of every thousand drops of water consumed, water conservation efforts will be much more successful focusing on leaks in infrastructure, running toilets, wasteful watering, and so on.
This NYT story is just another example of how fundamentally misleading and unbalanced so much of its news coverage of the gas issue is.