U.S. Water News Online
GILLETTE, Wyo. -- Water discharged during coal-bed methane
production would become drinking water for the city of Gillette under
a proposal backed by the mayor.
The Wyoming Water Development Commission has recommended studying
the possibility of retrieving disinfected methane water from the Fort
Union sands aquifers, which supply the city.
The project would involve pouring methane water into the aquifers
and studying whether the water can be stored properly.
The project could involve 5 to 25 wells producing 52,000 to
260,000 gallons of water per day, said Larry Wester, a hydrologist
with Wester-Wetstein, a consulting firm.
The project could recharge the aquifers in anticipation of future
growth around Gillette, supporters said.
The plan includes one reinjection well and two monitoring wells,
at a total cost of $510,000.
Mayor Frank Latta said the plan has drawn interest, partly because
coal-bed methane production takes water out of the aquifers.
Anything that can recharge those water sources would be a good
thing, he said.
Before becoming drinking water, the reinjected water would be
mixed with water from several other aquifers, he said. Mixing the
water allows the city to temper the hardness of water coming from one
of the aquifers, the Madison limestone formation.
Having more water in the Fort Union sands would give the city
greater flexibility in blending Madison water, especially in the
summer months when Gillette draws heavily from all three aquifers,
Chris Abernathy, a project manager with the Water Development
Commission, said the project probably would run until late 2003, when
a final report would be due.
In January, the Select Water Committee is expected to consider
whether to approve the plan. The Legislature would then decide on
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