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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Energy-Water Nexus
The academic literature has lagged both industry and public opinion in measuring and characterizing potential water quantity and quality concerns related to hydraulic fracturing (fracking). However, the science behind fracking’s water impacts experienced its own boom during the 2010s. In this paper, we address this critical emerging environmental and energy issue, providing an overview of the current state of knowledge, with a particular focus on academic journal articles that have been published in the past five years. These studies have generally found that the water quantity impacts of shale gas and tight oil development are, on average, not significantly worse than for their conventional counterparts, though the specific location and timing of withdrawals for energy development matter. On the other hand, recent findings also suggest that the water quality concerns associated with fracking may be more serious than water quantity concerns.
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- Water Quality and Quantity Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing
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