New Mexico’s Produced Water Act Explained

On July 1, 2019, the Produced Water Act became effective in New Mexico. Put plainly, the wording of this legislation means that New Mexico doesn’t allow fresh water to be used in fracking. Companies must recycle their water and reuse it effectively to protect water resources. This can have far-reaching implications for the oil and gas industry which produce huge volumes of water in their drilling and fracking efforts. Read on for details about New Mexico’s Produced Water Act, and how this affects your industry.

What is “produced water”?

According to the Produced Water Act, produced water is “fluid that’s an unintentional byproduct from digging for or the extraction of gas and oil” (HB 546).

Produced water is technically a combination of formation fluids and flowback liquid (the water used to drill the well plus naturally occurring ancient seawater recovered along with the oil and gas).

Flowback water normally makes up a relatively modest portion of the overall volume of produced water generated throughout a well’s life. Companies are required by state law to register with the FracFocus registry and disclose the substances used in hydraulic fracking. The composition depends on the well’s age and geology.

What does the “Produced Water Act” mean for the oil and gas industry?

The Produced Water Act, enacted as a section of House Bill 546 (HB 546) in the 2019 New Mexico Session Of Parliament, means the natural gas and oil industry should prioritize reuse, water treatment, and recycling options instead of relying on scarce freshwater resources. It also clarifies jurisdictional and lawful issues regarding produced water in New Mexico. Overall, wastewater treatment has become top priority as it is legally required to clean and reuse your produced water to continue operations.

New Mexico’s Produced Water: Next Steps

To inform parties about generated water and the impending regulatory process, NMED organized public workshops in October and November 2019 with participation from the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) and the Headquarters of the State Engineer (OSE). Stakeholders had the chance to communicate with state authorities during this public engagement procedure about various vital environmental, human health, and natural resource issues related to the Produced Water Act.

According to NMED, the goal is to design safe environmental and human health policies, decrease industry dependence on fresh water, and promote science-based and novel ideas. For that purpose, they are incorporating a wide collection of perspectives from the outset to guarantee that any future laws are done appropriately.

In accordance with the Produced Water Act, these sessions were held before any official NMED rulemaking procedures that would result in rules governing the treatment and reuse of produced water outside the gas and oil industry. NMED hasn’t specified when official regulation will start. Any proposed regulations should undergo a formal rulemaking procedure in front of the state’s Water Quality Control Commission, which includes a chance for public comment.

Some community and environmental organizations want the administration to slow as state officials in New Mexico move forth with their plans to research New Mexico wastewater reuse from gas and oil operations. They are worried about the hasty timeline and lack of clarity so far on a subject that, in their opinion, warrants in-depth investigation.

New Mexico organized a task force last summer to determine how you might reuse wastewater both inside the oilfield itself and eventually outside of it. It reached a deal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Why Promote Produced Water Treatment, Recycling, and Reuse Now?

You may produce approximately 4-7 gallons of water for each barrel (42 gallons) of oil. With almost one billion barrels of produced water (or over 60,500 Olympic-size swimming pools) generated in 2018, New Mexico surpassed Oklahoma as the third-largest oil-producing state.

To deal with deep concerns about prevailing underground disposal issues associated with ongoing oil and gas production, New Mexico is looking into different pathways for produced water control.

Produced water should undergo thorough water treatment before reuse to get rid of oil residues, suspended particles, salts, and other pollutants. New potential to purify and reuse wastewater while safeguarding the public’s health and the environment is being made possible by technological breakthroughs.

How to prepare your company for compliance with New Mexico’s Produced Water Act

New technologies provide efficient, environmentally friendly, and human-safe treatments for use inside and outside the gas and oil industry. Enerco stocks top of the line water treatment products that will clean produced water and make it suitable for reuse. Our technicians also provide professional water treatment consultation services for planning, setup, automation, and treatment plans that will bring your operation into compliance with all state and local regulations. If your company has been affected by New Mexico’s Produced Water Act, contact us to bring our team on board!

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