As the former Chief Deputy State Engineer in Colorado and Compact Coordinator and Engineer Advisor for the nine Interstate River Compacts, I can tell you water means everything to all citizens and water users in Colorado, including oil and natural gas companies.
It’s true, modern day fracking operations use millions of gallons of water. That sounds like a lot, because it is. But that amount is pale in comparison to our other needs – a drop in the bucket. Fracking in Colorado uses only 0.1% of total water consumed in Colorado.
Water is extremely valuable to our neighbors and other industries like agriculture. Exercising wise stewardship enhances relationships with these communities and makes energy business operations easier.
By the end of 2013, 87% of the water for Noble Energy’s program in the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) basin in Weld County, Colorado was secured through independent water supplies, including many sources that are unsuitable for drinking. This process means fracking is not competing against Colorado’s other water needs as often.
Recycling and reusing existing fracking water cuts down on water hauling truck trips, reduces traffic and air quality impacts, and conserves freshwater.
The post-fracking water treatment process is a heavily-regulated operation and an environmentally-focused business in Colorado with 100% recycled water as the end goal.
Water use has always been a politically charged topic in Colorado. Some have tried to pit energy development against other industries, as if we can’t coexist together. The truth is we have grown alongside each other for generations. And through sound recycling and new technologies, we will work together for generations to come.