Alberta's NDP leader says fracking has increased dramatically in the province and he wants more information about the impact on drinking water.

Alberta government statistics show there has been a 647 per cent increase in hydraulic fracking licences, from 203 in 2012 to 1,516 last year.

Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting liquids into the ground under high pressure to release natural gas from shale rock formations.

Brian Mason, leader of the provincial NDP, is calling for a review of fracking because the growth means the industry is using a lot more water.

“We don't know the environmental impact and we also don't know the potential impact of this process on drinking water,” he said. 

“We need to … have an independent groundwater monitoring and we need a scientific assessment of river inflow needs before these allocation decisions are made. We just don't know the impact that this is having either on the environment in the surface – or beneath the ground – and the impact that it may have on drinking water.”

Alberta’s environment and sustainable resource development department oversees water license applications. Spokeswoman Nikki Booth says government rules on fracking ensure Albertans' water is safe.

“Their regulations prohibit the use of fracture fluids that may be harmful to groundwater quality when fracking near any protected groundwater zone, and they also restrict fracturing within a 200-metre lateral distance of a water well.”

Booth says the entire oil and gas sector uses about 10 per cent of Alberta's water in a year, while fracking uses only a portion of that number.