The Stream, August 31: Fracking Wastewater Overwhelms the United States’ Permian Basin

The Global Rundown

Drillers in the Permian Basin, a major United States oil field, struggle to dispose of fracking wastewater. Urgent changes are needed to salvage Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin plan, according to the project’s Productivity Commission. Portugal attracts drought-stricken farmers to its lush Alqueva reservoir. The death toll from floods in India this year nears 1,000. Australia’s brutal drought is expected to last at least three more months. Water companies in the United Kingdom draw criticism as the amount of water lost from leaks rises for the second year in a row.

“We know that consumers are more likely to use water wisely if they can see their water company is doing the same by tackling leaks.” –Karen Gibbs, senior policy manager of the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), which recently released a report on water management by UK utilities. The report noted that leakage rates increased by 1.5 percent over the past year, despite initiatives by water companies to reduce leaks. The failure to cut back on leaks has drawn criticism from CCWater and other industry leaders. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

97 square miles Size of Portugal’s Alqueva reservoir, the largest artificial lake in the European Union, which was devised 20 years ago to revive parched southern Portugal. Now, drought-stricken farmers from Europe, the United States, and South America are investing in the irrigated land around the Alqueva. Reuters

$22 billion Estimated amount that will be spent on water management in the Permian basin five years from now, according to industry consultants. The oil basin, located in western Texas, is struggling to dispose of the vast amounts of wastewater generated during fracking. Traditionally, water has been injected back into the ground, but this practice has resulted in infrastructure damage and is possibly tied to a rise in earthquakes. As the oil industry continues to grow, drillers are being forced to develop new disposal strategies. Bloomberg

Science, Studies, And Reports

Ruthless drought across eastern Australia is expected to continue for at least three more months, says the country’s meteorological bureau. The dry conditions could also spread to western Australia in coming months. Yale Environment 360

On The Radar

In a five-year review of the Murray Darling Basin plan, the project’s Productivity Commission concluded that urgent action is needed to salvage the initiative. Although the plan has succeeded in restoring some rivers and wetlands, the commission reported that the next steps of the plan are either behind schedule or unrealistic, jeopardizing $4-5 billion in taxpayer funds. The Guardian

Spotlight: India

Follow The Stream for daily coverage on India’s water crisis.

The official death toll from this year’s monsoon flooding in India is currently at 993, and the number is expected to rise. The recent flooding in Kerala, India, killed at least 400 people, and another 600 people have died due to overflowing rivers in other states. The Times of India

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