The Water–Energy Nexus in the American West

The Water–Energy Nexus in the American West

Edited by Douglas S. Kenney and Robert Wilkinson

The nexus between water and energy raises a set of public policy questions that go far beyond water and energy. Economic vitality and management of scarce and precious resources are at stake. This book contributes to the body of knowledge and understanding regarding water, energy, and the links between the two in the American West and beyond.

Chapter 5: Managing Produced Water from Coalbed Methane Production

Lawrence J. MacDonnell and Katherine L. Guerra

Subjects: environment, climate change, energy policy and regulation, environmental geography, environmental law, water, law - academic, environmental law


Lawrence J. MacDonnell and Katherine L. Guerra 5.1. INTRODUCTION Along with the increasing importance of coalbed methane (CBM) as a source of natural gas has come the challenge of managing the considerable quantities of water that are produced with CBM. Here the energy– water nexus is turned on its head. CBM production does not consume much water; it produces it. But the water is an unintended consequence of the production process, not its object. In some cases, substantial quantities of water are produced. The quality of this produced water varies widely, but produced water often requires treatment before it can be disposed of or used. This chapter provides an overview of the CBM resource, its location, the methods for its production, and the quantities and qualities of produced water. It summarizes the legal framework governing the extraction, use, and disposal of produced water and provides an introduction to the various approaches used to manage produced water. 5.2. CBM PRODUCTION IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES Nearly 85 percent of CBM production is from the Rocky Mountain region including Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah (Energy Information Administration [EIA], 2007). The major CBM-producing basins in the western US are the Powder River, Uinta, Piceance, Raton and San Juan. Other basins that have CBM fields are the Wind River, Greater Green River and Hannah-Carbon (EIA, 2009). 57 M2770 - KENNEY 9781849809368 PRINT.indd 57 31/10/2011 10:40 58 The water–energy nexus in the American West Cities River/streams States HUC6 Coal bed methane...

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