Groundwater use in the Eagle Ford Shale: some policy recommendations

Maxwell Philipp Steadman, Benton Arnett, Kevin Healy, Zhongnan Jiang, David LeClere, Leslie McLaughlin, Joey Roberts


Advances in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling have allowed oil and gas companies to tap into Texas’ previously inaccessible shale reserves. Fracking in the state has grown at an exponential rate and is not expected to decline until 2025. Fracking requires the consumption of vast amounts of groundwater, a resource that is already strained. This study quantifies the water consumption associated with fracking in the Eagle Ford Shale, evaluates the current regulatory framework, and proposes 3 policy recommendations. The data show that fracking has become the primary consumer of groundwater in the most active counties within the Eagle Ford. Our study proposes 3 policy solutions to ensure that groundwater is consumed in an economically efficient manner in these areas. These solutions are a more thorough system for reporting consumption, tax incentives for oil and gas companies to use substitutes for fresh groundwater, and an alternative property rights system to the current
rule of capture system.


Hydraulic fracturing, policy recommendations, groundwater, fracking incentives, groundwater bank accounts

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Copyright (c) 2015 Texas Water Journal

Texas Water Journal

The Texas Water Journal is an online, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the timely consideration of Texas water resources management, research, and policy issues from a multidisciplinary perspective that integrates science, engineering, law, planning, and other disciplines. It also provides updates on key state legislation and policy changes by Texas administrative agencies. The journal is published by the Texas Water Journal, a nonprofit organization, in cooperation with the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife.

ISSN 2160-5319
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