Western Water Study: North Dakota
Consumptive water use is monitored and tracked in North Dakota. Consumptive use is water removed from the available supply and not returned to the immediate water environment. Because consumptive use tracks a small proportion of the total water used in a state, the proportion from oil and natural gas is larger than in other states that track total water use.
Oil and natural gas activities in North Dakota are tracked within the industrial water use category. The industrial category is sub-divided as industrial non-fracking and industrial fracking. Fracking includes water specifically used for hydraulic fracturing activities whereas industrial non-fracking use includes all other industrial uses such as manufacturing, mining, processing and non-fracking oil and natural gas use. Industrial non-fracking water use is 6% and industrial fracking is 4% of the total consumptive water use.
This number represents a larger percentage in North Dakota than in other states, due to the fact that the state is more sparsely populated and total water use is orders of magnitude less than the amount of water the State of Colorado uses (352,000 acre-feet vs. 19.9M acre-feet in 2012). In actuality, the volume of water withdrawn for hydraulic fracturing activity in North Dakota is slightly less than the amount withdrawn in Colorado over the same time period–12,629 acre-feet versus less than 14,000 acre-feet respectively.