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March 23, 2023

Water-Saving Legislation Passes House Committee

DENVER, CO – The House Energy & Environment Committee today passed legislation to preserve Colorado’s fresh water. HB23-1242 would require oil and gas operators to reduce, reuse and recycle water in their drilling operations.

“As Colorado combats the worst drought conditions of our lifetime, we must use every tool available to preserve our freshwater resources across the state,” said Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, D-Fort Collins. “Our legislation creates a roadmap and process to increase the usage of recycled and reclaimed water in oil and gas operations, which is a critical step toward preserving Colorado’s limited fresh water and groundwater resources.”

“Fresh water in Colorado is limited, and we’re working toward solutions that preserve this precious resource,” said Rep. Junie Joseph, D-Boulder. “This legislation improves transparency and reporting in oil and gas operations and requires them to transition from using fresh water to recycled water. We have the chance to save billions of gallons of water in Colorado, and it’s important that we pursue new opportunities to cut down on water usage.”

HB23-1242 passed the House Energy & Environment Committee by a vote of 7 to 3. The bill directs the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) in the Department of Natural Resources to adopt rules requiring operators to reduce, reuse, and recycle water used in oil and gas operations, and ensures operators regularly report the volume and source of the water used to the COGCC.

Colorado and the entire west are facing the worst drought conditions in 1,200 years. Last year, oil and gas operations used nearly 24 million gallons of freshwater per well. Requiring oil and gas operators to use recycled water in lieu of using fresh water will save billions of gallons of fresh water for farmers and Colorado communities.

HB23-1242 also establishes new transparency and reporting requirements for all water used, recycled, and disposed of by oil and gas operators. This reporting will enhance the Commission's and public’s understanding of how water is managed and disposed of in oil and gas operations. The bill also creates the Colorado Produced Water Consortium in the Department of Natural Resources to make recommendations for the recycling and reuse of water in oil and gas operations. Under this bill the COGCC would undergo rulemaking to require that at least 90 percent of water used in hydraulic fracturing operations be recycled or reused by 2030 unless it is determined to be unfeasible by two thirds of the Colorado Produced Water Consortium.

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