Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 6, 2014
Previous Article Next Article

Evolving shale gas management: water resource risks, impacts, and lessons learned

Author affiliations

Abstract

Unconventional shale gas development promises to significantly alter energy portfolios and economies around the world. It also poses a variety of environmental risks, particularly with respect to the management of water resources. We review current scientific understanding of risks associated with the following: water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing; wastewater treatment, discharge and disposal; methane and fluid migration in the subsurface; and spills and erosion at the surface. Some of these risks are relatively unique to shale gas development, while others are variations of risks that we already face from a variety of industries and activities. All of these risks depend largely on the pace and scale of development that occurs within a particular region. We focus on the United States, where the shale gas boom has been on-going for several years, paying particular attention to the Marcellus Shale, where a majority of peer-reviewed study has taken place. Governments, regulatory agencies, industry, and other stakeholders are challenged with responding to these risks, and we discuss policies and practices that have been adopted or considered by these various groups. Adaptive Management, a structured framework for addressing complex environmental issues, is discussed as a way to reduce polarization of important discussions on risk, and to more formally engage science in policy-making, along with other economic, social and value considerations. Data suggests that some risks can be substantially reduced through policy and best practice, but also that significant uncertainty persists regarding other risks. We suggest that monitoring and data collection related to water resource risks be established as part of planning for shale gas development before activity begins, and that resources are allocated to provide for appropriate oversight at various levels of governance.

Graphical abstract: Evolving shale gas management: water resource risks, impacts, and lessons learned

Back to tab navigation

Publication details

The article was received on 06 Jan 2014, accepted on 17 Mar 2014 and first published on 17 Mar 2014


Article type: Critical Review
DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00018H
Author version
available:
Download author version (PDF)
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2014,16, 1400-1412
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
  •   Request permissions

    Evolving shale gas management: water resource risks, impacts, and lessons learned

    B. G. Rahm and S. J. Riha, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2014, 16, 1400
    DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00018H

    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material.

    Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

    • For reproduction of material from NJC:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
    • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
      [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
    • For reproduction of material from PPS:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
    • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

    Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements