U.S. Water News Online
CASPER, Wyo. -- State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell is
recommending that coal-bed methane companies be asked to prove that
the production of groundwater is reasonable to achieve gas production
in certain areas and that the state consider water volume limits in
"We find ourselves, at times, in a Sophie's choice situation, in
that we want to ensure beneficial use of water. On the other hand, we
don't want to (impede development of gas)," Tyrrell said at a meeting
of the Wyoming Coalbed Methane Task Force.
The task force asked Tyrrell to explore how his office might
become more involved in resolving the issue of managing volumes of
coal-bed methane water on the surface. In order to produce methane
from coal seams, water is pumped from the coal aquifer to release the
gas. However, the process often produces more water than can be put
to beneficial use.
Tyrrell offered four options. Two would require statutory changes
targeting limits within drainages. Two others already within the
state engineer's authority to conserve groundwater resources would
involve a water-to-gas ratio to justify the production of water would
result in a reasonable payoff of gas production. Those could be
written as conditions of permits issued by the state engineer.
The task force agreed to post the recommendations on its Web site
as ideas for further consideration and public comment.
Tyrrell's recommendations drew skepticism from industry officials
while environmental and agriculture groups regarded them as a step in
the right direction.
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