TABLE 4.1 Summary of Primary CBM Produced Water Management Strategies in Western Basins


Primary Water Management Method


San Juan

99.9% reinjected

Bryner (2002)


97% reinjected, 3% evaporated

Bryner (2002)

Powder River (Wyoming)

64% surface impoundments, 20% direct discharge to streams, 13% for surface or subsurface irrigation, 3% reinjected

D. Fischer, Presentation to the committee, Denver, CO, March 30, 2009.

Tongue River drainage—of the Powder River (Montana)

61–65% direct discharge to streams, 4–5% industrial dust control, 26–30% for surface and subsurface irrigation, 5% surface impoundments

Calculated from information provided by A. Bobst, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Personal communication, December 21, 2009; T. Reid, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Personal communication, December 30, 2009; and J. Zupancic, BeneTerra, Inc., Personal communication, December 28, 2009.

Raton (Colorado)

70% direct discharge to streams, 2% surface impoundments, 28% reinjected

Bryner (2002)

Raton (New Mexico)

Nearly 100% reinjected

M. Fesmire, Presentation to the committee, June 2, 2009; data for 2008

Piceance (Colorado)

Nearly 100% reinjected; remainder in evaporation ponds

S.S. Papadopulos & Associates, Inc. (2007); data through 2006

NOTE: North Dakota is not listed in this table because the state does not currently have any CBM production. All permitted discharges to ephemeral and perennial drainages in the Montana portion of the Powder River Basin are located in the Tongue River drainage. The Northern Cheyenne tribe has expressed considerable concern about potential impacts of CBM development and produced water management on water resources of the Tongue River drainage (see also Appendix F). Data for water management in this region were pooled from several different sources collected by the committee, each with different levels of detail. Some percentages are thus presented as ranges to reflect the appropriate level of uncertainty.

Table 4.2 provides a summary of the most typically used water management methods, treatment requirements and challenges, and possible ancillary benefits. The management methods have been separated very generally into two categories: storage and disposal options and beneficial use options. Note that these categories are not mutually exclusive in that storage and disposal options do have a range of potential ancillary benefits and uses. The remainder of the chapter discusses these methods in detail.

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