It takes water to frack
Out walking the other day, I thought, “Water – where will SG Interests and others get water?” Fracking is, to say the least, water-intensive. Nationally, oil and gas extraction generates 878 billion gallons of wastewater annually, equivalent to what Niagara tumbles every two weeks.
As we know, fracking drills down and then horizontally under pressure into shale level. Shale is exploded with a mix of 90 percent water and 10 percent a stew of diesel fuel and 200 chemicals, all at 2 million to 4 million gallons per frack. Half remains in the ground, and half reverses course to come up to the surface as “flowback,” having picked up hydrocarbons and heavy metals like arsenic. This flowback is then forced at high pressure into yet more wells that can be 13,000 feet deep – an upside-down Mount Sopris. Each well is fracked six times during its 30-year life.
So, I was thinking about all of us, living in our high alpine desert, about the origination and use of water. The Colorado River has been appropriated down to Mexico. There are 14 watersheds in the Thompson, apportioned for ranching and town services, and we send some to help out to the Front Range. Oh, and we are in a drought that scientists see as long-term.
Here’s the SG story: the requirements for one of its proposed four well-pads.
• One well, drill and frack: 2 million to 4 million gallons.
• As shale gas wells deplete quickly, they must be re-fracked every five years.
• 10 million to 20 million gallons. Four wells.
• 48 million to 96 million gallons/one pad.
Aerial views of drill pads and their tethered wells dot extraction areas cleared for natural gas like stars in the Milky Way. And every one of those wells goes down and then back up through our aquifer.
Where is the water for this intensive extraction?
With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.