CASPER — The oil and natural gas industry in the United States pumps enough groundwater to supply 5 gallons of water for every American every day, according to the American Ground Water Trust.

But, instead of putting that water to use, much of it is discarded as a waste.

American Ground Water Trust executive director Andrew Stone said it is critical that the oil and gas industry team up with water professionals to minimize waste of water resources and put more “produced water” to use.

“Everybody who drinks water, or knows somebody who drinks water, is a stakeholder,” Stone said.

Stone spoke in Laramie recently at the “Energy Resources and Produced Waters Conference: Water Quality, Management, Treatment, and Use.” The conference was convened by the University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute and School of Energy Resources.

“One of the challenges that the energy industry has is getting people to believe what they say,” Stone said in an interview.

“We believe if the water industry — water professionals — worked more closely with those in energy, we could smooth some of the community concerns about the negative effects of coalbed development and oil and gas development.”

Stone said the energy industry is allowed to waste water because water is “grossly undervalued.”

But Americans, and people around the world, are quickly changing that view due to dwindling fresh water supplies and an expanding population.

He said the energy industry desperately needs a close alliance with scientists in the water industry so it can create more beneficial uses of produced water. And, in light of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it will have to be trusted scientists in the water industry to convince the public that the energy-and-water alliance is a worthy endeavor.

“As far as the public is concerned, platitudes about the safety of energy development are out the window,” Stone said.

Contact Dustin Bleizeffer 307-577-6069 or dustin.bleizeffer@trib.com.

Here are some quick facts about Wyoming’s water supply:

• 190,000 people rely on public water systems.

• 94,000 people rely on non-community systems.

• 40,000 people rely on independent water supplies.

• 120,000 acres are irrigated from groundwater.

Source: American Groundwater Trust

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