Alternative Water Sources for Hydraulic Fracturing in Texas

M.A. Cook, A.S. Stillwell, C.W. King, and M.E. Webber, May 2013 (Citation)


This paper describes an evaluation of cross-sector investments in water efficiency to enable increased water availability for hydraulic fracturing. In particular, water needs in Texas are examined to identify the water balances and cost requirements to deploy efficient irrigation water systems for the agricultural sector as a way to make available more water for the energy sector. The Rio Grande Valley in Texas is examined for these water savings that could be transferred to gas and oil production in the Eagle Ford shale formation. To evaluate water availability for use in oil and gas production, a model of water and cost savings from conservation technologies is shown at county-wide resolution. To demonstrate this methodology, we use irrigation districts on the Lower Rio Grande River in Texas to assess the feasibility of retrofitting alternative irrigation techniques for current agricultural sites. We found that between 420 and 800 million cubic meters (m3) or between 340,000 and 650,000 acre-feet (ac-ft) of water could be spared per year over a 10-year period, enabling freshwater use in oil and gas production in more than 26,000 wells in the Lower Rio Grande Valley alone.

Read More:


M.A. Cook, A.S. Stillwell, C.W. King, and M.E. Webber, “Alternative Water Sources for Hydraulic Fracturing in Texas,” World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2013, American Society of Civil Engineers, Cincinnati, OH, May 20-22, 2013.