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Colorado Sells 500M Gallons of Colorado River for Fracking

Saturday, November 26, 2011

THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN, November 24, 2011

dreamstime_xs_18944783 The push to extract natural gas along Colorado’s Front Range depends on using another valuable natural resource — water.   Oil and gas companies have purchased at least 500 million gallons of water this year from cities and water districts for hydraulic fracturing or ‘‘fracking’’ along the Front Range, the Denver Post reported. More water will be needed if companies are to fully tap Colorado’s Niobrara formation.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. said last week that it believes the equivalent of 500 million to 1.5 billion barrels of oil could be produced from the Wattenberg field there.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group, estimates that it would take 6.5 billion gallons of water a year to drill the Niobrara formation. The state as a whole uses more than 100 times that a year.

‘‘Even with a vastly increased drilling program, the quantity of water used is still small in the overall scheme of Colorado’s water use,’’ said COGA president Tisha Schuller.

She said COGA plans to work with communities on planning for oil and gas development, including infrastructure and water needs.

Natural resource planners said they’re working with state regulators to find out how much water may be available for oil and gas drilling.

Between 1 million and 5 million gallons of water are needed to frack a well. More is needed if a well has been fracked before.

State officials have long predicted that Colorado could fall short of the water needed to sustain the population and agriculture by 600,000 to 1 million acre feet. An acre foot is the amount of water it takes to cover 1 acre 1 foot deep. Depending on the area and water conservation, that’s enough to supply two to four families of four for a year. [Read original story]

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