Jul 29, 2013 in Blog Articles

The Karoo is a water deprived area similar to some parts of the US such as Texas where fracking is in progress. The water-stressed areas in the United States have already been under pressure to successfully manage scarce water resources for years prior to the advent of fracking. As a consequence fracking companies in states like Texas, where drought is a major problem, are facing pressure from regulators to reduce the amount of water they use in their fracking fluids. According to a recent report from Reuters an increasing number of companies have come up with a solution to the problem by utilizing more reclaimed water. As a consequence these companies are saving costs and cutting down on treatment time whereas in the past it was considered that recycling was too costly and businesses feared that anything other than clean water could reduce the company’s output and was not worth the risk. But now more and more companies are relying on treated and reusable water for their operations. But this is a two edged sword. The usage of reclaimed water has reduced the amounts of fresh water used for fracking which is a plus but environmentalists are concerned because it increase the potential for groundwater contamination. As an example researchers looked into samples from more than 140 private wells located in the vicinity of the actively exploited Marcellus shale in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania. Results revealed that methane was present in concentrations higher than safe levels in 82 percent of water samples, with the average level detected reaching six times higher than normal if the well was situated within a kilometer of a drilling well. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also discovered the presence of high levels of ethane and propane in drinking water. For wells located not further than a kilometer from a shale gas drilling site, the concentration of ethane reached 23 times the normal level. Propane was found in a total of 10 wells located within the same distance from a drill site.So water reclamation of scarce water results in savings on the one hand and yet already contaminated underground water supplies will become more contaminated. This is a big drawback which people in the Karoo are going to contend with given that there water supply comes from acqufiers which would be at risk of major contamination.