South Africa lifted a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing last week and shale gas exploration will soon begin in the arid Karoo region.
Worries about the water supply in the Karoo were voiced by several groups, prompting Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu to promise that any threat to water in South Africa result in a shutdown of fracking.
The Karoo region is semi-desert and is sparsely populated. Some grazing animals are raised there and minimal agriculture occurs because of the limited amounts of water and lack of summer rains.
The concerns about fracking in the Karoo region center around the use of water. Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting pressurized water, chemicals, and sand into a well to break up shale in order to allow the natural gas to flow back out of the well. With the water scarce to begin with, local residents are concerned there won’t be enough left for them.
The government has promised to perform hydrological tests to detect overuse of the region’s water or any pollution that may occur.
Aloes in the Karoo photo via Shutterstock