Arithmetic in Wonderland — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision

On March 20, Richard Stapler, Deputy Director of Communications for the California Natural Resources Agency, blogged on March 20 that hydraulic fracturing for oil extraction (fracking) in California uses just 8 acre feet of water per year.  Seems they checked a random sample of 30 hydraulically fractured wells, averaged the amount of water used by those wells, then multiplied by 30.

The problem is that there are actually 25,000 hydraulic fracturing wells in California, as Stapler himself says in the footnote to his blog.  When you multiply the average per well by 25,000, you get not 8 acre feet of water used, but 6,721 acre feet.

Stapler says that is still “a relatively small amount of water,”  enough for 27,000 average families for a year.  Tell that to 27,000 families in the Southern San Joaquin Valley who can’t get clean drinking water out of their taps.

Restore the Delta isn’t taking a position on fracking per se (although we hate to see precious Delta water used to do it).  But we’re alarmed when this kind of incompetent information makes its way into public discussions of issues affecting water use.

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