Quantifying the potential effects of high-volume water extractions on water resources during natural gas development: Marcellus Shale, NY

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Abstract

Study region: The Marcellus Shale, New York State, USA. Study focus: Development of natural gas resources within the Marcellus Shale will require large volumes of water if high-volume hydraulic fracturing expands into New York State. Although this region has ample fresh water resources, it is necessary to explore the response of hydraulically connected groundwater and surface water systems to large withdrawals. Because such effects would not be apparent from a typical water budget approach, this study applied groundwater flow modelling under scenarios of high-volume water withdrawals. Emphasis on water quantity, in contrast with other lines of research concerning water quality, introduced an important perspective to this controversial topic. New hydrological insights for the region: The potential effects of the withdrawal scenarios on both the water table and stream discharge were quantified. Based on these impact results, locations in the aquifer and stream networks were identified, which demonstrate particular vulnerability to increased withdrawals and their distribution. These are the locations of importance for planners and regulators who oversee water permitting, to reach a sustainable management of the water resources under changing conditions of energy and corresponding water demand.

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Best, L. C., & Lowry, C. S. (2014). Quantifying the potential effects of high-volume water extractions on water resources during natural gas development: Marcellus Shale, NY. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 1, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejrh.2014.05.001

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