New Mexico leaders are interested in finding new and creative ways to manage 40 billion gallons of wastewater produced by the state’s oil and gas wells each year. One suggestion is to put it to use for agriculture.
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union offers this simple suggestion: Go slow and be very careful.
Farmers and ranchers understand how the scarcity of freshwater in arid states creates tension between industries, between corporate users and public water suppliers, and between large and small private users. The old saying “Whisky is for drinking; water is for fighting” is a cliché precisely because it rings true.
Efforts within the energy industry to treat and reuse wastewater for their own operations offers great promise, so long as the water is stored and moved safely, and the eventual waste stream is disposed of responsibly.