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oil drilling

Public-Private Partnership Upgrades City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, Provides Recycled Water for Fracking

oil drillingWater — how to conserve it and how to ensure a reliable future supply — is an environmental management issue and expense that oil and gas developers take seriously.

Because of this energy companies are increasingly looking for ways to reduce fresh water use or treat and reuse reclaimed water from oil and gas operations and develop technologies to make fracking water-neutral. The latest example is a public-private partnership between the city of Midland, Texas, and Pioneer Natural Resources, which will upgrade the city’s infrastructure, save millions of gallons of freshwater and provide the oil and gas company a supply of reclaimed water for its fracking wells.

The Midland City Council approved the agreement with Pioneer at its Dec. 13 meeting.

Under the agreement, Pioneer will provide $110 million in upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, which would have otherwise been paid for through the city’s utilities fund. In return, Midland will provide Pioneer reclaimed wastewater from the plant for reuse.

The water will be transported on Pioneer’s water distribution system in the Midland Basin and used for hydraulic fracturing. This reduces Pioneer’s freshwater use in its operations and costs less than buying potable water. It also creates a reliable, long-term supply for the company.

City manager Courtney Sharp said the partnership shows how “public and private entities can maximize their resources by working together.”

The volume-based contract is expected to last for the next 20 to 28 years, depending on flow rates. After the Texas legislature approves the agreement and the plant is designed, construction is expected to take about two years.

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