Case study analysis on the impacts of surface water allocations for hydraulic fracturing on surface water availability of the upper Athabasca River

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
MacQuarrie Tindle, Alison
climate change
hydraulic fracturing
The Duvernay Formation of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin underlies portions of the Upper Athabasca Watershed. To access unconventional shale resources in the Duvernay Formation, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing were introduced to the area. Hydraulic fracturing requires large volumes of surface water for enhanced completions. This study examines the impacts of surface water allocations, as determined by the Alberta Desktop Method, on water availability of the Upper Athabasca Watershed, under the conditions of global climate change. Results of this study find most water allocations issued through temporary diversion licenses meet the constraints of the Alberta Desktop Method. The greatest risk for water imbalance scenarios occurs during winter months when historical surface water flows measure the lowest. Findings of this research will assist decision makers in understanding current and future water balance scenarios, and in determining appropriate and sustainable water management techniques for hydraulic fracturing operations throughout the Duvernay Formation.
Harmful Language Statement