Hydraulic Fracturing ("Fracking") - 3 of 18

Hydraulic Fracturing ("Fracking") FAQs - 18 Found

How and where is the waste hydraulic fracturing fluid disposed?

Most of the water and additives used in hydraulic fracturing remain in the oil and gas-bearing formation, deep underground. However, some of the fluid, mixed with water or brine which co-exists with the oil and gas, returns through the well to the surface after hydraulic fracturing is completed, and is referred to as produced water. Initially, after a well is brought on-line, large volumes of produced water are generated, which are primarily composed of the injected fluid.  This type of produced water is referred to as flowback.  In many cases, produced water is injected into deep geologic formations in wells permitted for the disposal of waste fluids.  In some cases, produced water can be treated and reused to hydraulically fracture another well. Specialty companies operate water treatment facilities that have the ability to remove dissolved solids from flowback fluid so that it can be reused. In other cases, the water is clean enough to meet regulatory standards and is discharged into local watersheds. Practices vary between regions, depending on regulations, geologic conditions, and water availability. 

More information on injection wells can be found at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Underground Injection Control Web site. There is more information about the potential for waste water injection to induce earthquakes in these Frequently Asked Questions.




Learn more:

USGS Water-Quality Topics: Hydraulic Fracturing

USGS Energy Resources Program main hydraulic fracturing page.

Science or Soundbite? Shale Gas, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Induced Earthquakes

Tags: Fracking, Hydraulic Fracturing, Oil and Gas Drilling