Impact of shale gas development on water resources: a case study in northern poland

Environ Manage. 2015 Jun;55(6):1285-99. doi: 10.1007/s00267-015-0454-8. Epub 2015 Apr 16.


Shale gas is currently being explored in Europe as an alternative energy source to conventional oil and gas. There is, however, increasing concern about the potential environmental impacts of shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing (fracking). In this study, we focussed on the potential impacts on regional water resources within the Baltic Basin in Poland, both in terms of quantity and quality. The future development of the shale play was modeled for the time period 2015-2030 using the LUISA modeling framework. We formulated two scenarios which took into account the large range in technology and resource requirements, as well as two additional scenarios based on the current legislation and the potential restrictions which could be put in place. According to these scenarios, between 0.03 and 0.86% of the total water withdrawals for all sectors could be attributed to shale gas exploitation within the study area. A screening-level assessment of the potential impact of the chemicals commonly used in fracking was carried out and showed that due to their wide range of physicochemical properties, these chemicals may pose additional pressure on freshwater ecosystems. The legislation put in place also influenced the resulting environmental impacts of shale gas extraction. Especially important are the protection of vulnerable ground and surface water resources and the promotion of more water-efficient technologies.

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Energy-Generating Resources
  • Environmental Monitoring / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Government Regulation
  • Natural Gas
  • Oil and Gas Industry* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Poland
  • Water Resources* / supply & distribution


  • Natural Gas