Hydraulic fracturing is the process through which hydraulic pressure is used to fracture rocks in order to facilitate petroleum, natural gas and brine from the underground. The process officially began in 1949 and since then over 2.5 million operations have been carried out in hydraulic fracturing. The process typically uses fluids, which comprise of about 99.5 percent sand and water, which is also known as proppant, to cause fractures in the rock. The proppant is chemically treated to ensure that no bacteria growth builds up in the fluid after injection in the fractures. The proppant is also treated to ensure that the sand in the fluid is suspended for expansion of the fracture as well as for reduction of surface tension to allow proper production of the natural gas. In the past years, the debate about the environmental safety of the process has received much attention. The contamination of drinking water has been one of the main issues that face the hydraulic extraction of natural gas. The incidence of methane gas production and dissolving
In water has particularly been observed to be higher in Ultica and Marcellus shale formations. In this study for example, the rate of methane contamination of drinking water was noted to be as high as 26 times the normal values which is fatal.
Due to this and other complaints about environmental degradation and the future of clean water in the underground, studies have been undertaken to manage wastewater management from the process. Directional drilling in hydraulic fracturing has been condemned for the increased contamination of water. Recycling wastewater for use in hydraulic fracturing has been found to be more efficient especially where horizontal drilling is preferred. This is because it offers a more efficient of sustain water reserves than the treatment options in use.