Domestic oil and gas production and clean water are critical for economic growth, public health, and national security of the United States. As domestic oil and gas production increases in new areas and old fields are enhanced, there is increasing public concern about the effects of energy production on surface-water and groundwater quality. To a great extent, this concern arises from the improved hydraulic fracturing techniques being used today, including horizontal drilling, for producing unconventional oil and gas in low-permeability formations.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis is hosting an interdisciplinary working group of USGS scientists to conduct a temporal and spatial analysis of surface-water and groundwater quality in areas of unconventional oil and gas development. The analysis uses existing national and regional datasets to describe water quality, evaluate water-quality changes over time where there are sufficient data, and evaluate spatial and temporal data gaps.