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How Much Water Does Hydraulic Fracturing Use?

The average fracking job uses roughly 4 million gallons of water per well – or about as much water as New York City uses every six minutes and about 1.3 percent of the water used by the country’s car washes every day. That can vary by state, because the amount of water used in each hydraulic fracturing job depends on geology and a number of other factors. In California, for example, the average fracking job needed more than 116,000 gallons of water. Yet, that’s less than half the water used every day to irrigate the average California golf course.

That said, industry is constantly working to reduce water use, investing heavily in reuse and recycling technologies. These efforts are working. For example, in Texas requests for recycling permits rose from less than two a year in 2011 to 30 approved applications in 2012. More than 90 percent of flowback fluid – water that returns to the surface after fracturing – is being reused in the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania.

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