Researchers at the University of Texas conclude that using natural gas to generate electricity instead of coal in the state saves water, even after including water used by hydraulic fracturing.
The most efficient natural gas-fired power plants, called combined-cycle, use about a third as much water as a comparable size coal-fired plant, said the study by the school's Bureau of Economic Geology.
It noted that water use for drilling would still have a disproportionate impact on the immediate location of a well and could strain local water supplies. But all in all, the state would have used 32 billion more gallons of water if all the state's natural gas-fired generators were instead coal-fired.
-- Jim Fuquay