From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):
At the moment, there’s no way to know exactly how much recycling actually takes place in Northern Colorado, though the issue could come into focus when the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission begins to analyze data it has gathered since June on the amount of water recycled in the state.
That’s expected to happen “in the coming months,” said Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
Already, however, “we know that industry is aggressively pursuing recycling opportunities for water, both on the Western Slope and the Front Range, and we’re supportive of that effort,” Hartman said.
There are key differences between drilling in Northern Colorado and the Western Slope to explain why water recycling has not yet gained a greater foothold here.
In Northern Colorado, wells require a gel-like fracturing fluid that makes water-recycling more difficult than on the Western Slope, said Ken Carlson, a CSU professor of environmental engineering who is working with oil and gas companies to study their water use. The fluid used in fracturing here also contains more salt than on the Western Slope, so treating the water here for reuse costs more.
Operators on the Western Slope also recycle more water because the wells that they can use to get rid of their used fluids are farther away and so it costs more to transport.
In Northern Colorado, meanwhile, operators can dispose of their water through nearby deep injection wells.