Q: What is the hydraulic fracturing water cycle?
A: The EPA studied the relationship between hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas and drinking water resources using the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. The hydraulic fracturing water cycle has five stages; each stage is defined by an activity involving water that supports hydraulic fracturing. The stages and activities of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle include:
- Water Acquisition: the withdrawal of groundwater or surface water to make hydraulic fracturing fluids;
- Chemical Mixing: the mixing of a base fluid (typically water), proppant (typically sand), and chemical additives at the well site to create hydraulic fracturing fluids;
- Well Injection: the injection and movement of hydraulic fracturing fluids through the oil and gas production well and in the targeted rock formation;
- Produced Water Handling: the on-site collection and handling of water that returns to the surface after hydraulic fracturing and the transportation of that water for disposal or reuse; and
- Wastewater Disposal and Reuse: the disposal and reuse of hydraulic fracturing wastewater.