Dear Teri,

Please publish details of fracking, especially chemicals used. Dr. Winn Parker (Parkers Pathways) on states it takes 5 million gallons of water for one fracking! The upper layer of stratum is disturbed before reaching the desired depth. Water is more necessary than oil ($). Thank you.

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Ardis Johnson


Thanks for writing! I talked to Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms, who said 5 million gallons of water is the high end. The average is 4 million gallons for each well, he said.

Forum Communications has put together a five-part series about water, which includes taking a look at water supply in the state. The series began this weekend and runs every weekend through Feb. 25.

As for your fracking question, it is now voluntary for North Dakota companies to report details about fracking, Helms said. However, that will soon change.

The state Industrial Commission approved rule changes this past week that will make it mandatory for companies to submit fracking reports. April 1 is the earliest the rules will take effect, Helms said.

The information will be available at, which already has some North Dakota information voluntarily submitted by companies. The rule will require data to appear on the website within 60 days of pumping, Helms said.

Here's how to find that information:

After going to, click on the map that has "Find a Well" on it. From there, select North Dakota from the drop-down box. You can select a county, well and operator, if you want.

After you click search, you'll see North Dakota light up on the map below. Click on the map until you see bright green light bulb shapes. You can click on each of those bulbs and get the option to open a PDF report with specific information.

Whether or not you'll understand the reports, however, is another matter.

"If you're not a chemist or a chemical engineer, the data that's there you'll struggle with a little bit because it's chemical names," Helms said.

Still, the reports are as easy to understand as they can be, he said, and there's enough there that people can copy and paste information into a search engine to find out more about ingredients.

"It's something that the environmental groups and the citizens have really pushed for," he said of putting reports on "This really is about the principle of transparency in this process. This is really not because we suspect that, you know, improper substances have been used."

The Industrial Commission -- which includes the governor -- has said the typical North Dakota Bakken frac contains 0.088 percent petroleum distillates.

FracFocus is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. It includes information on hydraulic fracturing, chemicals used and groundwater protection.

Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we'll do our best to find an answer.

Email politics@ (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

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