Groundwater Protection

Protecting Quebec’s Water – Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does hydraulic fracturing contaminate drinking water?

A: No. There has never been a confirmed case of water contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing in deep shale. Because this process takes place hundreds or even thousands of metres below the water table – separated by multiple layers of impenetrable rock – there is no threat to drinking water supplies. Natural gas companies also utilize multiple layers of concrete and steel casing to prevent any leakage of gas or other fluids into water supplies. In accordance with best industry practices, drinking wells are tested within a radius of one kilometre around a drill site. These tests allow communities to be fully aware that their water is not being contaminated.

Q: What happens to the water used during hydraulic fracturing?

A: Some of the water used during hydraulic fracturing flows back to the surface where it is safely recovered. Water used in the hydraulic fracturing process will be tightly regulated by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la faune (MRNF) and the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP). In addition, MDDEP must issue a certificate of approval that a drilling company has provided a full chemical analysis of used water before it is treated and released or processed for reuse.

Q: Will hydraulic fracturing use up all of Quebec’s water sources?

A: No. The amount of water required to hydraulically fracture a well will be approximately 13,000 cubic metres, roughly equivalent to the amount of water that flows through the St. Lawrence River at Quebec City in one second. It should also be noted that hydraulic fracturing uses very little water compared to other more common industrial activities. Car washes, for example, will require about three times more water than what natural gas producers will use. And with new developments in water recycling technologies, water consumption per natural gas well is expected to decline significantly in the coming years.