If Homeowners Have to Cut Back on Water Use, Why Shouldn't Drillers, too? Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


If Homeowners Have to Cut Back on Water Use, Why Shouldn't Drillers, too?

6 February 2007 at 1:21:28 PM

Interesting article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the Fountain Quail Water Management recycling plant in Johnson County, which recycles *frac* water coming from the drillers. Although the article isn't completely specific in this regard, it looks like Devon Energy takes at least some of the waste created from using thousands of gallons of water to *frac* (fracture) the ground for wells to the water recycler, instead of shooting it into the ground at a waste injection well. I'm also not certain what happens to the water at these mobile recycling plants-is it then reused by Devon, put back into the ground to replenish the water tables, or kept in some kind of reservoir? What's interesting is that the idea that gas drillers, who right now can use as much water as they want, are beginning to see some backlash in the form of requiring them to cut back their usage which drains wells and the water tables.

Fort Worth officials have discussed the idea of imposing the same sorts of restrictions on drilling companies that residents face during water shortages, including requiring them to use recycled water.

The Texas Water Development Board has suggested setting up a groundwater conservation district, which could limit pumping from wells in rural areas.

Historically, groundwater districts haven't been able to regulate gas drilling, but that could change, said the Sierra Club's Kramer.

If that happens, it may make sense to use distilling plants or other alternate water sources.

"While this may an additional cost for them, I don't think it's unreasonable to require them to do it," Kramer said. "Unless you do require them to do it, I doubt they're going to do it on their own."

Why, again, does this make any difference? Because of the amount of water used. Here's the press release from the Texas Railroad Commission about Devon's request to use the mobile recycling units.

The Texas Water Development Board is currently studying the industry’s use of water in the Barnett Shale to determine the amount of water used. Current estimates are that a Barnett Shale vertical well frac job uses approximately 60,000 to 80,000 barrels of water, while a horizontal well frac operation is estimated to use between 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of water.

And the thing is, gas wells being drilled are only increasing in number.. and quickly.

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