New Mexico close to adopting oil and gas water rules

New Mexico

FILE – In this April 24, 2015, file photo, pumpjacks work in a field near Lovington, N.M. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators are close to adopting a set of rules focused on wastewater produced during oil and gas operations.

The Oil Conservation Commission is expected during its meeting in early September to vote on the final language after hashing out a draft during a virtual public meeting last week.

The rules would require additional reporting to better track the types and volumes of water used within the industry. The measure would also clarify the jurisdictions of the Oil Conservation Division and the state Environment Department when it comes to produced water.

Environmental groups have been critical, saying the proposed rules do not address concerns about the toxicity and the risks of reusing the water.

State officials have said the proposal would not authorize the use of produced water outside the oil and gas industry. They say the process before the oil commission marks just the first phase, leaving the door open to future rule making.

The Environment Department also is developing its own rules to regulate produced water and any potential effects on the environment.

Produced water is typically disposed of through injection wells that pump it back underground. It also can be treated by oil and gas companies and reused in hydraulic fracturing operations.

According to state data, every barrel of oil produced results in an average of four barrels of produced water. One barrel equals 42 gallons. In 2018, the industry in New Mexico generated more than 42 billion gallons of produced water.

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