New technology would treat ‘produced water’ |

New technology would treat ‘produced water’

John ColsonPost Independent staffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Two entrepreneurs, speaking to the Garfield County commissioners this week, described a new system designed to treat “produced water” from the oil and gas drilling process, so that water could be reintroduced into local aquifers and streams.Called the “OPUS II,” the system is made by VWS Oil & Gas, a global division of Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies. It involves sending produced water, as well as “flowback water” from the hydraulic fracturing process, through a series of ceramic membranes and other filtration devices.Once the treated water has made it through the process, what comes out is “high-quality water suitable for reuse” and “very low volumes of waste” in the form of bricks that can be dumped in a landfill, according to Patrick Ryan and LNSP Nagghappan of Veolia, who gave the presentation to the board of county commissioners.The OPUS II system, according to Nagghappan, is a step up from current disposal options, which include deep-well injection – which he said has a limited capacity – and evaporative ponds, which have the potential to emit volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere and ground water.Or, said Nagghappan, the liquids can be hauled away for disposal, which creates traffic impacts, is expensive, and relocates rather than eliminates the problem of ultimate disposal.The process is undergoing pilot testing at a Chevron oil drilling operation in San Ardo, California, and Nagghappan said that it is able to remove up to 99 percent of the contaminants in the water to be treated.The two men told the board of county commissioners that they are hoping to sign up companies working the Piceance Basin gas patch, noting that the use of the OPUS system reduces truck traffic, because the water is treated and reused on site rather than being hauled in and then hauled away after it is used.Commissioner John Martin called the OPUS technology a “fantastic product,” but he noted that it has some inherent problems.For one thing, he said, if the system is successful in treating large quantities of water, it could yield a “created water right” which could spell trouble for Colorado’s strict regimen of water laws.And, he said, the bricks of waste must be carefully dealt with in the disposal process.Commissioner Trsi Houpt agreed, and pointed out that a lot of drilling in Garfield County takes place around residential areas, so that the plants must be regulated for noise, dust and other potentially troublesome effects of

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