State and federal officials in New Mexico are warning that decisions about water are becoming complicated and opportunities to tap untraditional sources should be considered.
According to The Arizona Republic, the state and the U.S. Environmental Agency has drafted a document outlining area where regulations can be streamlined. The document encourages the treatment and reuse of waste coming from oil and natural gas.
According to the document, oil and gas production in the state generated nearly 38 billion gal of wastewater in 2017. Oil production continues to grow in the Permian Basin’s well field along the border of Texas and New Mexico. According to officials, the amount of wastewater will grow along side of the oil production.
“Our effort to clarify that state and federal regulatory landscape dealing with produced water will facilitate greater produced water reuse and recycling and in turn help relieve the growing demand on the state's water resources,” Ken McQueen, state energy secretary, said to The Arizona Republic.
The document also speaks on the state’s challenged with drought. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, New Mexico is the fifth-driest state in the U.S. The state currently receives an average of less than 15 inches of rainfall a year.
The Rio Grande and Pecos rivers were marked as some of the lowest in the decades this year. Water managers had to broker deals to keep the Rio Grande flowing through the state, according to The Arizona Republic.
“While conservation plays an important role in managing the state's limited water resources, it is not enough,” the document said.
Some stakeholder are wondering if production water from the oil and gas industry should even continue to be treated as wastewater. According to The Arizona Republic, critics have voiced concerns about the lack of knowledge.