The Water Quality Control Commission adopted a site-specific standard for boron in surface water discharge, as proposed by Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s clients, XTO Energy, Inc., and Pioneer Natural Resources (USA), Inc. Colorado’s proposed water quality requirements for coalbed methane produced water in the Raton Basin in southeastern Colorado would have required injection or advanced treatment of the coalbed methane produced water at a cost of $90 million to $111 million to XTO Energy, Inc., and Pioneer Natural Resources (USA), Inc.
Ronda Sandquist, a shareholder in Brownstein’s Natural Resources group, advocated a strategy that would maintain many of the benefits for the rural community near Trinidad, including:
- 7,000 acre-feet of water per year
- Sales revenue of $84.5 million and local tax revenues of $14.3 million
- Water quality in the Purgatoire Watershed that meets all standards
The alternative proposal is estimated to cost the companies $17 million to implement. During deliberations, the Water Quality Control Commission was impressed that instream water quality standards continued to be protected under the companies’ proposal. And the commission found that the public comments evidenced the companies’ good working relationship with the agricultural community, which uses and benefits from the produced water. The expert witnesses and water quality data independently demonstrated that the water produced is of high quality and that this approach to surface discharge considers and protects the quality of water in the Purgatoire Watershed.
In an arid region such as southeastern Colorado, water is clearly an important resource. The produced water helps fulfill the needs of area ranchers and wildlife native to the watershed and Arkansas River Basin. As a result of Brownstein’s work, Raton Basin can continue to produce natural energy supplies in a manner that protects Las Animas communities and the environment.
Geoff Williamson, associate, and Nicole Muell, paralegal, provided substantial support for the hearing.