Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Surface and Groundwater Water Resources: Case Study from Louisiana


Hydraulic fracturing activities have been gaining more attention; therefore, a better understanding of the potential stress that fracturing may cause to freshwater resources is needed. The goal of this study is to assess the impact of current and projected future water demands for hydraulic fracturing on water resources in two main shale plays in the US state of Louisiana: the Haynesville shale and the Tuscaloosa Marine shale. The study analyzes historical and future projected fracturing scenarios that simulate different extraction rates over the two shale plays. In each fracturing scenario, stresses on both surface and groundwater are evaluated separately using the Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI). Under all scenarios, the impact of fracturing water demands on surface water resources is within the low-stress category in most watersheds in both shale plays. In contrast, groundwater resources appear to be highly vulnerable under all fracturing scenarios. The results suggest that nongroundwater resources in Louisiana's shale plays should be used for fracturing activities instead of groundwater whenever possible. The results provide a quantitative assessment of the current and future water stress due to fracturing and have important implications for regional water allocation and management policies.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering


This work was partly supported by the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program as part of Program Project ID R/CRM–02 under NOAA Award NA18OAR4170098.

Geographic Coverage


International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1943-5452; 0733-9496

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2021 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Oct 2021