Sometimes I read things that just fly in the face of logic. When you look at sites like the U.S. Drought Monitor you get images like this.
When you read stories like this one titled, “Lake Mead, Nation’s Largest Reservoir, To Reach Record Low This Week” you get the impression that water is a scarce resource.
“The last time Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, reached maximum capacity was 1983. This week the lake, located along the Colorado River near Las Vegas, Nevada, is expected to reach a new milestone — its lowest point ever…Nearby Las Vegas gets 90 percent of its water from the lake. With one of the city’s two intake pipes at risk of being exposed, the city is hard at work drilling an expensive three-mile-long tunnel to access deeper reserves…The dropping water levels, at up to two feet per month, are not only impacting recreation and water supply for millions, including California’s already parched agricultural industry, but also putting hydropower in jeopardy. With less pressure as the water enters turbines that run the electricity generators, the current capacity is about 1,592 MW — down from the 2,074 MW that’s achievable. This could drop to about 1,120 MW by May 2016 if predictions hold…A 2007 shortage-sharing agreement sets three elevations for which water restrictions will be imposed on the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico. The first shortage level, 1,075 feet, will likely come into effect in the next year or two. It would require a total water use cut of 4.4 percent, with Arizona taking an 11 percent cut, Nevada a four percent cut, New Mexico 3.3 percent and California remaining the same.”
CREDIT: AP/ JULIE JACOBSON
BUT then you read stories like this one titled, “Chevron Admits The Truth: Oil Shale Will Use Huge Amounts Of Western Water”.
“Chevron USA, in legal filings in a case brought by the conservation group Western Resource Advocates, has admitted that to meet a goal of developing a half million barrels of oil from sedimentary rock in northwest Colorado it would need 120,000 acre feet of water a year. That’s enough to meet the needs of 1 million people per year…Chevron and Western Resource Advocates reached a settlement agreement and filed it last week with the Colorado water court. Under the agreement Chevron is allowed to keep its water rights for six years and then must go back to court to keep them beyond that period. It also agreed to provide Western Resource Advocates with five documents that detail how much water it would need for oil shale development and how the water would be used…“Now the debate for decision makers is whether allowing oil shale development to use enormous quantities of water in a strained Colorado River Basin is acceptable.”
One of those documents can be found here. It needs to be said that the Chevron USA’s document is just for one well.
Here in California the fracking war continues.
Clean Water Action’s website states:
Fracking Threatens California’s Water Supply
Fracking poses a serious threat to California’s water supply and quality. It is an extremely water intensive practice, using hundreds of thousands to millions of gallons of water to frack a single well.
Fracking has an especially high impact on water resources because most contaminated wastewater from fracking is removed from the water cycle. However, companies like Venoco and Occidental have plans to significantly ramp up fracking in California to make the California the largest source of on-shore oil production in the country in the next 10 years. With 35 million people and the largest agricultural industry in the U.S., there is simply not enough water to accommodate such high levels of water usage for oil and gas drilling in California.
The Central Valley, where the majority of fracking is taking place, is already under major pressure from contaminated drinking water sources.
Nitrate contamination, for example, from agriculture is a major threat to many communities’ drinking water sources. According to a recent UC Davis report, over 2 million Californians may not have access to a reliable source of safe drinking water, as groundwater contamination is a major problem throughout the state. Any increase in groundwater contamination is unacceptable and will only put more pressure on California’s shrinking water resources.
So why don’t we have a moratorium on fracking here in California? The answer is undoubtedly MONEY.