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Across the United States as a whole, the average amount of water used for hydraulic fracturing is minimal compared to traditional uses of water by municipalities and agriculture. High-volume hydraulic fracturing is a new use of water, and the amount of water consumed and the timing of water usage has raised concerns in arid regions or areas experiencing water shortages.

This dataset captures laws and regulations addressing the amount of water used in oil and gas development, including water administration systems, reporting requirements and disposal methods — all of which provide a more accurate picture of the life cycle of water use in the hydraulic fracturing process. The laws and regulations compiled in this database address whether operators need to identify the physical source of water used for development, submit a water plan, and to identify the amount of water used during completion of the well, the amount of water that flows to the surface after hydraulic fracturing, and the volume of disposed water. The laws and regulations also address how surface and groundwater rights are obtained and whether the state distinguishes types of surface water and groundwater.

This dataset includes laws for 17 states and federal rules for lands and minerals managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Forest Service, current as of November 25, 2015. To explore the variation in these laws, use the blue "Start Here" box below. For a summary of all of the law compiled for a specific jurisdiction, click on the corresponding part of the map. 

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If you have questions, corrections, or additions, please contact Matt Samelson at

Related Resources

LawAtlas Interactive Maps: 
Air Quality:  Air Quality Laws Pertaining to Oil and Gas Development
Water Quality:  Permitting, Design, and Construction
Water Quality:  Well Drilling
Water Quality:  Well Completion
Water Quality:  Production and Operation
Water Quality:  Reclamation
Water Quantity:  Quantity

Did you know?

Laws in eight of 18 jurisdictions examined here require reporting the physical source of surface or groundwater used for oil and gas development.

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Map Legend: State Included in research. Not included in research.