The Analysis of the Water Resource Carrying Capacity in the Shale and Gas Exploration Area, Southwest China Karst Region ‒ A Case Study from Cenggong County

Xiaoqin Luo1, Ganlu Wang2, *, Yuliang Mou2, Ruiying Liu2, Hao Zhou3, Hanying Si3, Qinggang Chen4
1 College of Environment and Civil Engineering, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu 610059, China
2 College of Earth Science, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu 610059, China
3 School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Guizhou University, Guiyang 550025, China
4 Guizhou Province Departmental Team 115, Guiyang 550000, China

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© 2017 Luo et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the College of Earth Science, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu 610059, China; School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Guizhou University, Chengdu 550025, China; Tel: 13595007135; E-mail:



As an unconventional natural gas resource, shale gas is the current hot topic in the oil and gas industry. China is rich in shale gas resource, most of which lies in the Southwest Karst Area with its fragile ecological environment.


The following questions must be studied before exploration thereof: on one hand, shale gas mining requires a lot of water, on the other hand, if the karst region water resources can support shale gas mining over a large area, and if the consequent water/environmental pollution problems will bring more severe challenges to the sustainable development of society and the economy in the southwest karst area, there is a potential conflict requiring a research-based resolution. The water resource carrying capacity is an important measure of the potential sustainable development of a karst region, with its unique geological structure and fragile natural landscape. Therefore, the study of karst water resource carrying capacity is of great significance.


This essay is based on Cenggong County, one of the five key shale gas exploration areas in Guizhou at the end of 2012. By calculating the water resource carrying capacity in the studied area with the help of the ecological footprint method, it is concluded that the existing water resources in the studied area can support shale gas exploration. However, shale gas mining will cause a change in the industrial structure within the region. In addition, it has significant effects on the bearing capacity of water resources in the ecological environment.

Keywords: Shale gas, Karst region, Water resource carrying capacity, Ecological footprint, Gas Mining, Shale gas exploration, Gas mining, Shale gas exploration.