Natural Gas-Fired Power Plants Help Bolster Texas During Drought

Texas water saved by the transition from coal to natural gas for electricity generation offsets by far the amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to produce natural gas, a study released Thursday found.
The study arrives as the state copes with a multi-year drought that has lowered water levels in reservoirs, dried up riverbeds and sparked a battle for water between downstream rice farmers and upstream residential users. The drought, the worst since the drought of record from 1950 to 1956, has also focused attention on the use of millions of gallons of water per well to hydraulically fracture shale formations to release oil and natural gas.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin estimated that water saved by shifting a power plant from coal to natural gas is 25 to 50 times greater than the amount of fracking water used to extract the natural gas, according to the study published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters.