Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rules for Reusing Waste Water Coming to LA

The Louisiana Conservation Office of the Department of Natural Resources announced that it is working on rules to allow producers to reuse waste water from the hydraulic fracturing process as a way to relieve some of the strain on North Louisiana's aquifers. Final rules should be released by the end of the year.

One thing the article doesn't mention is that reusing the water should help lower truck traffic on the already strained local roads. Right now, all of the used frac water is trucked off site to salt water injection wells. If a rig reuses its frac water once, it should cut that rig's water trucking requirement by half - less going in, less leaving the site. Multiply that by, say, 40 rigs and it does amount to a positive outcome.

The Commission earlier encouraged companies to use the Red River Alluvial aquifer, but that doesn't help producers that aren't drilling close to the Red River. Several companies, including Chesapeake, Petrohawk and Questar have received U.S. Corps of Engineers permits to draw directly from the Red River.

I read an interview with Commissioner Jim Welsh who also wants to find a way to use water from lignite mines in Red River and Desoto Parishes. The lignite is below the Red River Alluvial aquifer, so millions of gallons of water must be pumped out of the mines. Welsh wants to find a way to use that water for fracing.

While North Louisiana doesn't face the same water issues as places like western Colorado, it is important to address the issue upfront since the fragile water sources must be shared with agricultural and urban users.

[UPDATE: 7/29/09: Here is a good editorial from the Shreveport Times on the subject of water, but the main point is that we need to be proactive about environmental impacts rather than trying to fix the problem later. I couldn't agree more.]

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