Hydraulic fracturing requires a large amount of water, a major concern in arid western states that would welcome this practice. But New Mexico believes it can mitigate this problem by pushing oil companies to treat and recycle fracking wastewater for use in agriculture – or even drinking water. State officials, with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency, are still working out the details. If they adopt the strategy of hydraulic fracturing, also called hydraulic fracturing, other arid states could follow the example of New Mexico. "New Mexico's oil and gas accounts for over one-third of our overall fund," said Ken McQueen, who heads the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources. "We need to worry about doing the right thing for the survival of this industry." In addition to maintaining a vital industry, McQueen believes that wastewater could be a boon for New Mexico. farmers and ranchers who need water for their crops and their herds. The plants could use it and help revitalize the dried wildlife habitat, he said. And even if the wastewater is filled with salt and other minerals, it could even be processed and used for drinking. In a typical month, the amount of wastewater generated by the fracturing process in New Mexico, the third largest oil producer in the country, would be enough to fill Elephant Butte, the largest lake in the state. During fracturing, oil companies inject a fluid – a mixture of water and chemicals, as well as sand – into the soil, deep into rock formations to release oil and natural gas. In New Mexico, each barrel of oil fracking product produces up to five barrels of "produced water" – a combination of excess fracking water and l / min. water released by the rock. Sometimes oil companies reuse sewage to produce more oil, but in many cases they remove it by pumping it deep into the soil with wells called injection wells. Sewage injection has created serious problems in states such as Oklahoma and Kansas. The two states adopted restrictions on water injection after the scientists concluded that the practice caused earthquakes, sometimes several on a single day. "We hope it will have a significant impact," said McQueen. He has reported figures of up to one billion barrels of water a year. "As the volumes of water produced increase, it makes sense to explore other methods of disposal, especially if these methods may be of positive or beneficial interest for the future." New Mexico. "But even in the fifth-drier state of the East is as valuable as crude, ecologists are skeptical of the strategy many state leaders see as a more environmentally friendly approach to wastewater treatment. . Even after treatment, they say, water can be contaminated with harmful metals or chemicals used during fracking, which creates long-term risks for people and the environment. "If they do it without fear, these projects will forever change New Mexico's water," the Red Nation, a Native American advocacy group, said in a statement released in anticipation of a change. A protest at a recent conference of the oil and gas industry in New Mexico. The new regulation would "swallow scarce and sacred freshwater resources in the region for fracking and then reintroduce dirty water into the hydrological cycle." With the help of the EPA, New Mexico officials released last month a draft document explaining how to clarify national and federal regulations to promote wastewater reuse. The EPA is also conducting a separate study to identify other potential uses of produced water, citing injection limits and requests from dry states asking "what steps would be needed to treat and use it". renew for other purposes ". Bob Poole of Western States The Petroleum Association said energy companies could opt for treatment and reuse instead of injection, but only if "it works economically for society." If there is an environmental benefit, he says, "it's win-win." In Pennsylvania For example, a complex process of obtaining permits makes it difficult for companies to inject production water within the state. Part of the water is pumped into Ohio and West Virginia, then to companies like Eureka Solutions, based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which removes salt so it can be used to de-ice roads. and cleaning pools. Eureka rejects treated wastewater in the Susquehanna River. Eureka charges about $ 8 per barrel, which is comparable to the cost of trucking. But in New Mexico, where the injection of production water costs at least a dollar a barrel, it would be even cheaper to value it. "We would like to do it cheaper and that would really help us. [provide an incentive to] producers to orient themselves in our direction, "said Kevin Thimmesch, Eureka's operations director." But I think we will need economic incentives with the states to get us to that level. "Aubrey Dunn, outgoing land commissioner of New Mexico, said the state was not doing enough to encourage treatment instead of injection.It supports the state tax relief to companies that deal wastewater so that it can be used for agriculture or consumption, and even though water can be treated in an economically viable way, environmentalists wonder if it should be used Eleanor Bravo, head of Food & Water Watch in New Mexico, said: "We oppose the very idea of using this method for crops." "Because it is chemically modified, we believe that It will not be able to never be resumed in the evolving process of water, "she says. A 2015 study by a professor at Duke University found that even treated wastewater from the oil and gas industry contained up to 50 times the amount of ammonium allowed by the oil industry. EPA. – Stateline Stateline is an initiative of Pew Charitable Trusts. Read more How sewage from energy companies injected into the ground causes earthquakes The Trump administration repeals key fracking regulations.