The Stream, December 1, 2020: New Mexico Oil and Gas Operators’ Water Usage Revealed In Reports


  • Oil and gas operators in New Mexico report millions of gallons of produced water.
  • A new report finds millions in England are at high risk for flooding exposure.
  • Severe drought in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe is affecting hundreds of thousands of residents.
  • Tropical Cyclone Gati displaces thousands in Somalia. 

Funding for a program to generate more snow and stream flow in Vail, Colorado has been cut.

“It’s one of the few ways to physically increase water supplies. This is one of the legs of the stool. When we are looking at supply and demand, this is the supply side.” – Dave Kanzer, deputy chief engineer for the Colorado River Water Conservation District. Vail Resorts, a prominent skiing lodge in Colorado, is unable to fund its cloud seeding program this winter, which uses a network of ground-based generators to disperse silver iodide particles into clouds to enhance snowpack and stream flows. Vail Daily reports that the move concerns state and regional water managers, who see cloud seeding as an important tool for increasing water supply in times of drought. Without Vail’s program, which typically receives around $300,000 in funding, snow and water generated could be cut in half this year.


HotSpots H2O: Water Scarcity in Palestinian Territories Puts Farming at Risk – Water scarcity in occupied Palestinian territories continues to put health and agriculture at risk as conflict over water supplies between Jordan, Israel, and Palestinians flares.

What’s Up With Water – November 30, 2020 – This week’s episode covers a global fund established by the United Nations that aims to address sanitation-related health crises, a new report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization that highlights water scarcity for the world’s farmers and the Canadian energy company Enbridge, which has sued the state of Michigan for shutting down Line 5 and received federal permits to replace the line 3 pipeline in the United States Midwest.

New Report Finds Socially Deprived Coastal Areas Affected by U.K. Flooding

A new report from the U.K’s Environment Agency found that an estimated 1.3 million people in England live in areas at high risk for flood exposure. Those living in socially deprived areas have been more disproportionately affected by excessive flooding in the past year, the report said. The report found that geographical inequalities have shrunk since a comparable study was conducted in 2006 but deprived communities still experience significant inequalities, especially in coastal areas.


600,000 PEOPLE

Severe drought in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, has affected water access for more than 600,000 people. Global Press Journal reports that rationing water has become the norm for many in the city and boreholes are commonly used to collect water, which usually produces unclean water that must be boiled and run through a sieve to remove dirt. Others have similarly cut back on chores and basic hygiene practices, citing that the need for water is more pressing than their concerns about the coronavirus. A robust rainy season could relieve some of the burden, as meteorologists are predicting the city will receive above-average rainfall in the 2020-2021 rainy season.


In accordance with the Produced Water Act, reports on water use from oil and gas operators in New Mexico were published in an online database, revealing that operators have used millions of gallons of produced water since reporting started this fall. Produced water has historically been reinjected into oil reservoirs to maintain pressure or regarded as a waste product and dumped deep underground. The Carlsbad Current Argus reports that of the 16 published reports, Mewbourne Oil Company submitted 13, reporting between 5.5 million and 26.7 million gallons of produced water at various locations. The remaining three reports were submitted by Tap Rock Operating, which reported between 11.4 and 12 million gallons of produced water at a facility in Eddy County.

In context: New Mexico Oil Production Is Soaring. Now What To Do With The Wastewater?


Tropical Cyclone Gati, which made landfall in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somolia last week, has displaced 42,000 and killed eight fisherman, Reuters reports. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said last week that the storm “disrupted livelihoods” by flooding agricultural land and killing crops and livestock. The cyclone could also worsen the once-in-a-lifetime locust plague by allowing swarms of the insect to mature faster and lay eggs.

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