Will fracking deplete our water and cause earthquakes?

Fracking an oil well is a process that uses thousands, if not millions of gallons, of water.
Fracking a well is a process that uses thousands, if not millions of gallons, of water. Regulators in North Dakota say the amount of water used for fracking became and issue back in 2009.

"We came to the conclusion that we needed about 30 million gallons a day and the ground water only had about seven million," said Lynn Helms, Director for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.

That's because, like the Central Valley, western North Dakota is arid. Dakota regulators came up with a solution: They permit water to be taken from the Missouri river.

Fracking is a one-time process, used to prepare a well. It is not a continuing process. In California, only about one or two wells are fracked per week, a process that typically takes a couple hours a day for about two weeks.

A routine frack job uses about 100,000 gallons and of water, but a deep exploration well can use as much as 7 million gallons. Oil industry spokesmen say frack water sometimes is processed and recycled for other oil recovery operations.

"It does not make any sense for a company to go out there and destroy the environment," said Tim Zdarko, drilling and completion manager for Aera Energy.

Fracking is also rumored to cause earthquakes. California State University Bakersfield geologist Janice Gillespie says there's some truth to that belief, but the earthquakes are so small but not to a scale anyone on the surface would notice.

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