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Produced water, money water, living water: Anthropological perspectives on water and fracking

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Advances in hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) technologies and horizontal drilling have enabled the extraction of previously unviable unconventional oil and gas resources. However, as global environmental concerns have become more prominent and unconventional oil and gas developments have moved ever closer to residential centers, public scrutiny of the industry and its methods and impacts of extraction have increased. Water impacts feature prominently among the contemporary societal concerns about fracking. These concerns include the large water requirements of the process itself, as well as concerns about the potential pollution of groundwater and the (underground) environment more broadly. Anthropologists have undertaken qualitative field research on unconventional gas developments in a variety of settings, largely among local communities in regions of extraction. The perspectives employed by anthropologists are commonly drawn from the broader social science literature, including the anthropology of water and natural resources, science and technology studies, studies of social movements, and studies which examine the energy‐society nexus. Based on the shortcomings of the published anthropological accounts, interdisciplinary research collaboration with hydrologists, engineers and economists, as well as a more fulsome engagement with the variety of hopes, fears and dreams of fracking and unconventional gas, is recommended. WIREs Water 2018, 5:e1272. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1272 This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Sustainable Engineering of Water Science of Water > Water Quality Human Water > Methods

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Human Water > Methods
Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change
Engineering Water > Sustainable Engineering of Water

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