In September 2014, World Resources Institute (WRI) released “Global Shale Gas Development: Water Availability & Business Risks,” an 88-page report that ranks the level of water stress (whether water is available to meet demands) in 20 countries with the largest reserves of shale-based natural gas being extracted or potentially extracted by hydraulic fracturing. This includes the United States, where the Marcellus formation in the Middle Atlantic states (including a small part of Virginia) is one of several formations that have generated large increases in recent years of natural gas extracted by hydraulic fracturing (also referred to as “fracking”).
The report identifies regional differences within countries and gives a country-wide average ranking. The overall-average ranking for the United States is in the medium-to-high stress category, but the rankings vary from low to high across the country and even within the area of the Marcellus formation.
An overview of the report’s main findings, including a map that shows the results quickly, is available in a September 2, 2014, blog post by WRI, “40 Percent of Countries with Largest Shale Energy Resources Face Water Stress,” available online at http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/09/40-percent-countries-largest-shale-energy-resources-face-water-stress. Access to the full report is available at that link.