Western Water Study
Responsible management of water resources is a priority for the oil and natural gas industry. In order to engage in a constructive dialogue regarding water management, understanding the volume of water diverted for oil and natural gas activities is imperative. Western Energy Alliance commissioned Golder Associates Inc. to develop the study Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Production Water Sources and Demand Study to provide information on the volumes of water used for oil and natural gas activities in the six major western production states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Click on the state graphics below for details.
The most currently available water usage data for oil and natural gas activities in each of the referenced states is presented in this report, along with a comparison of the amount of water used for oil and natural gas activities relative to other uses, such as agricultural, municipal, industrial, and recreational. Because states track water use differently, it can be difficult to compare water use directly between states.
Each of the six states monitors water use differently and reports water use over different time periods, and may either track it as consumptive use or as total water withdrawn/diverted from surface water or groundwater. These two types of use are quite different. States that measure consumptive use are measuring only the amount of water that is permanently removed from the immediate water environment. Consequently, their water use numbers will be lower than a state that reports the total amount of water withdrawn or diverted.
Despite the challenges of comparing across states, it is clear that oil and natural gas activities use a very small amount of each state’s overall water use. For those states that disclose state-wide water use data–Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming–oil and natural gas activities use less than 1% of the total water.