Hydraulic Fracturing - Unconventional Wastewater Management

A comparative review and analysis of hydraulic fracturing wastewater management practices across four North American basins.



Hydraulic fracturing is a technology that has long been employed in the oil and gas industry. However, the recent combination with new horizontal drilling techniques has unlocked vast potential shale gas and tight oil reserves across North America and changed the industry almost overnight.


The Water Initiative research team is preparing an extensive comparative, multidisciplinary review of hydraulic fracturing wastewater handling, treatment, reuse and disposal by comparing the operating practices, regulatory policies and stakeholder concerns that have emerged in various jurisdictions regulating unconventional shale formations in North America. The research will identify key knowledge gaps and enable private and public sector decision-makers to develop specific research approaches to directly address these identified knowledge gaps.


The CWN is laying the groundwork to move research on hydraulic fracturing and water forward to directly address the needs of government and industry decision-makers in the complex area. The CWN is funding national multidisciplinary academic teams to evaluate research approaches that could be applied to strengthen decision-making.

The knowledge integration projects addresses information gaps in the following issue areas:

  1. Water use and demand management;
  2. Wastewater handling, treatment and disposal;
  3. Groundwater and subsurface impact issues;
  4. Landscape impacts of development/operations on surgace water/watersheds; and
  5. Watershed governance and management approaches for resource development, including aboriginal issues.



Principal Investigator:  Dr. Greg Goss, University of Alberta

Project Manager:  Jason Brisbois, University of Alberta, Water Initiative

Student Assistant to Greg Goss: Stefanie Kletke, University of Alberta

Lead Investigator for Operating Practices: Dr. Daniel Alessi, University of Alberta

Student Assistant: Ashkan Zolfaghari Sharak, University of Alberta

Lead Investigator for Stakeholder Concerns: Dr. Joel Gehman, University of Alberta

Student Assistant: Yvette Thompson, University of Alberta

Student Assistant: Kailun Hong, Technische Universitat, Muchen, Germany (located at the University of Alberta for this project)

Lead Investigator for Regulatory Policies: Dr. Diana Allen, Simon Fraser University

Student Assistant: Chelsea Notte, Simon Fraser University