SNAPP: Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Water Quantity and Quality

Principal Investigator(s): 

Sharon Baruch-Mordo, Joe Kiesecker, Anne Trainor, Joe Fargione and Joe Ryan

Global demand for energy continues to increase and the new technologies of horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing allow extraction of new shale reserves. Shale oil and gas development provides economic benefits and less air pollution than other fossil fuels, but hydraulic fracturing also uses large quantities of water and produces toxic chemicals. Better science can help predict and avoid conflicts between shale energy development and the need for clean safe waters for people and natural systems.

The Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) Hydraulic Fracturing Working Group will synthesize fine-scale information across the 48 contiguous United States on: well locations, water and chemical use, other water needs, watershed importance to drinking water, and location of sensitive species, to assess the effects of current and projected future hydraulic fracturing development on water quantity and quality. The project will also review existing water use and waste management plans to develop policy recommendations and best management practices to help states and countries mitigate the risks identified.

The working group has developed an interactive spills data visualization tool that allows for the exploration of the following factors: (1) when the spills are most likely to occur, (2) where the spills are most likely to occur, and (3) the underlying cause of the spill. Better insight into the where, when and why spills occur will provide regulatory agencies and industry decision makers with important information on where to target efforts for locating and preventing future spills.


This project is supported by the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP), generously funded through founding grants by Shirley and Harry Hagey, Steve and Roberta Denning, Seth Neiman, Angela Nomellini and Ken Olivier, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

More information for project participants Visit the SNAPP website Explore the interactive data tool