lesswaterBy Elizabeth Zach , staff writer

With the national shift from coal to natural gas, the energy industry is using less water to cool power plants, according to Climate Central, which tracks international research on climate change.

Since 2005, hydraulic fracturing – or, fracking – has enabled the industry to extract more natural gas; coal production between 2005 and 2012 fell from 50 percent to 37 percent. Natural gas production, on the other hand, rose from 19 percent to 30 percent in the same period. These shifts mean that less water from lakes and rivers is needed to cool power plants, which is significant since 38 percent of all water withdrawn is for cooling the nation’s power plants.

Depending on a power plant’s design, water may be returned to its source once used. Regulations limit how much the plant can warm the water before it’s released back to a river, lake or the ocean.

Fracking, however, has still come under scrutiny, not for the amount of water it uses – per fracked well, natural gas production requires between three and five million gallons of water – but rather the danger of mixing the water with other industrial chemical agents.

To read more, go here: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/water-use-declines-as-natural-gas-grows-19162