Environment Texas
Houston Chronicle

Measures aim to raise fracturing recycling

Texas legislators consider water recycling mandates
Emily Pickrell

In response to concerns about the volumes of of water used in hydraulic fracturing, two bills before the state Legislature would require water recycling at the state’s oil and gas wells.

The proposals debated this week in the House Energy Resources Committee  would require the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the state oil and gas industry, to develop rules to require the recycling and reuse of hydraulic fracturing water.

Less than  25 percent of the water used in Texas hydraulic fracturing  is recycled now,  and the bills — HB 3537 and HB 2992 — are part of a broader  debate on whether the state should encourage or require recycling.

Drilling wastewater includes  flowback water, which returns to the surface after being injected during fracturing, and produced water, which already was underground and comes to the surface.

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, which supports the two bills, estimates that about 5 percent of flowback in the Barnett Shale of North Texas is recycled and reused. Even less recycling occurs in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas and in the East Texas portion of the Haynesville Shale, Metzger said.