A new bill was introduced into Nebraska Legislature seeking to create further regulations for the oil and gas industry. This was a response to a western Nebraska controversial project allowing gas and oil companies to inject wastewater underground.  oil-water-1254583

The Permit Application: 

This action was prompted by a permit application lodged by the Terex Energy Corp. The Colorado based company wanted to dispose of wastewater in old oil wells in Sioux County, a common practice in the industry. Drill operations produce a great deal of wastewater, and this needs to be put somewhere. Unfortunately, this application was controversial for a number of reasons. The primary reason was that the application involved a massive amount of water, up to 10,000 barrels a day and this water would be coming from gas and oil fields in not only Nebraska, but also Wyoming and Colorado. This would mean that the water would be carried by as many as 80 trucks each day on the rural roads and highways in the area, raising concerns about safety and damage.

Another area of concern is that the water usually has a high salt content and could contain contaminants and chemicals from the hydraulic fracking processes, which could contribute to groundwater pollution, especially in the High Plains Aquifer.  

The Reaction: 

According to Scottsbluff Senator, John Stinner, lots of people raised concerns and provided good testimony about the issue. The Senator was contacted by many constituents who were asking if bringing wastewater from out of state was necessary and whether it would affect our water quality. Senator Stinner and other senators asked that the state oil and gas commission pause the review process, but the application was approved anyway. Although this was for half of the original volume, some Nebraska landowners filed lawsuits against Terex Energy Corp. In the light of this controversy, there was a need to examine the regulations around this type of well activity.

Along with the EPA and other state representatives, Stinner and the other senators reviewed the track record and regulations of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. This prompted the introduction of the new bill; LB1082. This was designed to improve public access and understanding of the process and ensure public safety accountability. This would require that operators notify natural resource districts and local government when they want to apply for a wastewater disposal well. It also requires that the water injected into the wells is tested each year. LB1082 also provides more authority for state agencies to test wells, monitor wastewater transport and hold public forums and hearings.  

Both the practice of wastewater well disposal and the new bill are both still very controversial. This means that it is sure to be argued about by supporters and opponents in the months and years to come. If you are concerned about the potential impact of wastewater disposal on your water quality, you need to speak to a water treatment professional. There is a massive choice of water softeners/ water conditioners and filtering systems to address an array of water contaminants. A fully WQA certified treatment professional will be able to ensure that a new system meets your requirements and exceeds industry standards.

About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.

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