Engaging in consultations with local stakeholders, proactively developing water management plans, and coordinating with other operators in the region to develop shared, centralized infrastructure can help a company to sustainably manage its consumption of water resources. In addition, the company may seek to engage its employees in water conservation efforts and encourage sustainable practices on the part of its suppliers and contractors.
To reduce fresh water withdrawals, the operator can treat and reuse wastewater on site for use in its hydraulic fracturing operations or for other industrial or agricultural uses (if the treated water meets the user’s chemical criteria and the operator obtains the necessary permits). Some companies are achieving nearly 100% recycling of their produced water, which reduces their freshwater consumption by 10 to 30 percent. 1 Companies could also seek to replace the use of fresh water in their operations with municipal wastewater or brackish water.
Other activities that can serve to reduce impacts on local water supplies include:
- minimizing the subsurface injection of produced water to prevent its removal from the water cycle
- considering the practice of groundwater banking, in which an entity stores water in a groundwater basin for the purpose of future withdrawal (see the resources section below)
- timing surface water withdrawals to avoid coinciding with periods of low flow or of heavy usage (see Box 14. Case Study: A Solution in Water Sourcing)
- Freyman, “Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress,” 39. ↩