At Encore Green and the Beneficial-Use Water Alliance, we have always said we’re wanting to create a win-win-win for stakeholders when it comes to transforming by-product water into beneficial-use water. And that’s still the goal. But this plan really only works if the stakeholders do what they say they are out to do.
For instance, the oil companies want to do something with all the water that’s coming out of the oil well. So, they work with everyone to figure out the best way. We would be confused if the oil companies suddenly said they’ll just cap the oil well and go out of business. That’d be crazy, right? But they are in business and need to figure out their water problem. Them we understand.
The rancher/landowner is trying to figure out how to get more water on their arid ground. We’d be confused if they suddenly said that they didn’t want water and that they were okay with less yield and winnowed herds due to drought. That’d be crazy, right? But they are in business to grow things and they need to figure out their water problem. Them we understand.
The regulators are trying to protect the land and want to make sure that the oil and water are handled in the best way that will serve the land. They are, after all, by definition, setting out to ‘protect the environment.’ We’d be confused if they decided they only wanted the by-product water from the oil well to be thrown away (injection or evap ponds) and not used to help the environment. We’d be especially confused if the regulators didn’t want water that has been cleaned and now defined as beneficial-use to be put to, well, beneficial-use and used for conservation and ag.
We’d be confused. And to be honest, we ARE confused. Makes us think that the regulators might have a different agenda in mind than protecting the environment in the Western oil-producing states.
But maybe we’re wrong. We hope we’re wrong. We hope the regulators will prove that we’re wrong. We want all the stakeholders to win - including the environment.