Prof. Mike Hightower
New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium
New Mexico State University
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Jeri Sullivan Graham, Research Professor/University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Pei Xu, Professor /New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

New Mexico’s 2019 Produced Water Act established a regulatory and policy framework for the ownership and management of produced water, giving control and regulatory authority for the use of produced water outside oil and gas to the NM Environment Department (NMED). In September 2019, the NMED entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with New Mexico State University to create the New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium to help establish science-based regulations and policies for reusing produced water outside oil and gas. The Consortium is a collaboration of state and federal environmental and natural resource agencies, academia, industry, and non-profits organized to fill scientific and technical gaps for fit-for-purpose treatment and reuse of produced water, while protecting natural resources and environmental and human health and safety.

While reuse of produced water can be beneficial – such as supplementing fresh water supplies and encouraging economic development and mineral recovery opportunities – there are also risks. This presentation discusses the Consortium’s approach to produced water treatment research, development, and pilot-scale demonstration planning, testing, and evaluation. With a focus on collecting operational cost, performance, and toxicology data, economic and health and safety risks are identified and reduced, and produced water reuse accelerated where viable.