The promise of making it rain has a long history of fool’s errands. From superstitious rituals to biplanes salting the clouds, we just don’t have a good solution to make water fall from the sky. However, we now can make water fall from irrigation systems from a brand new source: industrial by-product water.
You see, across the US, we have 882 billion gallons of this by-product water from the energy industry every year. But we don’t put it to beneficial use on our land. Instead, we throw it away and dispose of this water down an injection well or let it evaporate in man-made ponds. There was a time when that was the best solution. However, that was then. Instead, these 882 billion gallons could be put to beneficial use and irrigate our drought-ridden lands. This new source of water could put 6 inches of water over as much as 3.8 million acres annually! That’s a beautiful number for a farmer or rancher or anyone managing open land.
We have accomplished this land-application of cleaned by-product water safely under permit regulations with economic viability; but there’s more to be done. We must change our mindset about just how this industrial water is handled. We are in a serious drought right now and we all know that this is not a one-time event. Today, land-application of by-product water would mitigate the effects of our drought, cause vegetation to thrive, and create the often-discussed carbon sinks, which removes carbon from our air. All of this is done without taking a drop from the aquifer. So, not only would we have more water on our lands, but we also have greater volumes in our aquifers.
Agriculture is now the best partner for the energy industry’s midstream services. Now that we can do thing differently, we must change our mindset concerning it. Always happy to talk about this, Marvin.Nash@EncoreGreenEnvironmental.com. Let’s make it rain in the arid West.
*Source for produced water stat: http://aqwatec.mines.edu/produced_water/intro/pw/