Here's an article from the Pueblo Chieftain with details about entrepreneurs that are trying to build businesses around water produced from oil and gas wells. You gotta love the idea. Since all water on the planet has been recycled for millennia by natural processes we need to use what we have. Everyone lives downstream.
From the Chieftain, "To those who operate oil and gas wells, water is a waste product.
"A few entrepreneurs hope to change that, creating a new industry around so-called produced water. While the water would fulfill only a minuscule fraction of the state's future water needs, such supplies could be important in some areas.
"Oil wells typically produce more water as they age, making recovery of oil more difficult. They play out as stripper wells, producing far more water than crude. In some cases, the produced water can be injected into the wells to force more oil to the surface. If the water quality is good enough, a well operator might opt to send the water down the nearest stream.
"Gas wells, including the methane coal beds in Las Animas and Huerfano counties, typically produce less water than oil wells, but the amount of water can be significant - millions of gallons per day for the thousands of wells in the area.
"In Wellington, a small community nine miles north of Fort Collins, a farmer wants to use produced water to irrigate fields and selling surface flows to cities.
"Meanwhile, a couple of retired businessmen living in Huerfano County are looking into forming a small company to provide water for cisterns...
"...two retired businessmen living near La Veta are using their own experience from the drought of 2002 to investigate creating a nonprofit business centered on produced water.
"Len Hearns and Ernie Haynes want to use water from a nearby gas well to supply cisterns in rural Huerfano County. The project is still in its embryonic stage, as a market feasibility study has not been completed, Hearns said...
"Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte said using produced water presents several challenging issues.
"Right now, much of the water is released directly into streams. At a workshop in Trinidad last year, a Pioneer Natural Resources spokesman said about half of the 2.4 million gallons daily of produced water from the company's wells is released into state waters.
"The rest is kept in holding ponds, where it either evaporates or is pumped back into the ground.
"Witte said the water flowing into streams benefits water rights, mostly held by irrigators...
"To claim it at the source, the first step would be to prove it's not tributary - in other words, part of the natural flow of the nearby streams. Such well fields are recognized in Colorado water law.
"The produced water in Las Animas and Huerfano counties usually is associated with coal seams 700 to 4,000 feet deep, so it may fulfill the requirements of nontributary water.
"But that has yet to be tested in water court.
"Las Animas County has filed a claim on produced waters that has not yet been decided, Witte said.
"Producers in Huerfano County unsuccessfully tried to claim water already impounded, but their claim was dismissed.
"If the water is found to be tributary, it could still be used, but an augmentation plan would be needed, Witte said."
Category: Colorado Water