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Water disposal thrives amid oil slump

Though waste water management is an often overlooked component of oil and gas operations, Community Radio for Northern Colorado reports that it’s a field on the rise. Wastewater disposal accounts for a significant portion of production expenses; Bluefield Research, a water consulting firm, reports that American frackers spent more than $6 billion on water management in 2014.

T-Rex Oil intends to hone in on the lucrative waste water business in Nebraska, proposing what would be the state’s largest operation of this kind, taking in about 80 truckloads of waste water from Colorado, and Wyoming and in-state per day. Residents have greeted the company’s plans with trepidation.

Managing waste water usually entails processing backwash of saltwater and chemicals from fracking and injecting it into the ground. With roughly two wastewater spills per minute occurring in North Dakota’s Bakken region, residents worry the wastewater wells will threaten their wellness.

“I just have reasonable doubts about the safety,” said Jane Grove, a nearby ranch-owner. Wastewater plans have also raised concern for earthquakes, which studies have linked to small injection wells. Despite these concerns, Justin Haigler, president of Wyoming water service Black Bison, highlighted the importance of wastewater disposal: “…without this water management, oil and gas doesn’t happen.”

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