Why is Water Reuse for Drilling Operations Important?

This question is becoming more relevant to many in the oil & gas industry as we all grapple with $30/BBL oil prices.

Water Uses

Water is a necessity for many of the drilling operation functions. From the mixing of drilling mud, cementing operations, boiler feed water and dust suppression or ice road construction, rig use water is required to keep the drilling operations going.

Water Sources

So, where does all this water come from? Generally, drilling operations will try to source suitable water from as local a source as possible. These include local rancher dugouts, local streams, rivers, lakes and local municipalities that sell water.

Cost of Water

The cost of rig water can be fairly inexpensive in areas where there is abundant local access to rivers or lakes and local regulations permit withdrawal. Increasingly, what O&G operators are finding is that access to “cheap” water is dwindling and operators have to look further afield to access rig water; usually at a much higher cost than in the past. In more arid regions, water can be quite expensive with the added cost of the logistics and associated costs of trucking water to rig sites.

So why is water reuse important?

Back to the question at hand. Water reuse offers an independent water source that is dependable, locally controlled and generally beneficial to the environment. Water reuse allows O&G operators to become less dependent on outside sources and helps reduce the cost of accessing water for rig operations.

Sources of Reusable Water

In a previous post, I outlined how several O&G operators in Colorado have benefitted by treating sanitary waste at the rig site and reusing the treated water for rig water applications.

Sanitary Wastewater Recycling

One of the ways O&G Operators have taken advantage of new treatment technology is treating sanitary wastewater at rig and facility sites rather than trucking the waste to a disposal facility. Treating the sanitary wastewater on site and returning the treated effluent to holding or rig tanks for reuse is both economical and “green” savvy.

Reduced Operating Costs

Operators are saving a minimum of 15% in costs simply treating rather than trucking sewage to a disposal facility. Generally speaking, if a vacuum truck needs to drive more than a ½ hour to a rig site to haul off sewage for disposal, treating the sanitary waste on-site can be done at a 15% savings. When the cost of buying and trucking rig use water is factored in; the savings jump to 30% or more. In this time of sub $30/BBL oil, who does not want to reduce operating costs!

Quality of Treated Wastewater

Treated wastewater quality is strictly regulated by local State & County Health Authorities. Mobile treatment equipment requires permits to operate and frequent testing is conducted on the treated effluent to insure quality requirements are met. The effluent is chlorinated to destroy all pathogens and viruses. At this stage the recycled water is safe to use in industrial applications.

Added Benefits

Reducing truck traffic to the rig or facility site created by vacuum and water hauling trucks is one of the side benefits not always taken into consideration. A rig site servicing 20 persons and operating 1 hour from a disposal facility will have over 225 “vac” truck trips per year driving back and forth to site simply to truck out sewage. To access drilling sites; trucks frequently have to drive through residential areas where truck traffic is not always accepted due the noise, dust and perception of additional HS&E risk of spills or accidents. By eliminating this truck traffic an O&G operator can show corporate responsibility to the community and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In the example above, eliminating 225 truck trips and the equivalent GHG emissions is the equivalent of the carbon sequestered by over 20,000 tree seedlings over a 10 year period.


  • Water is becoming an increasingly scarce and costly commodity; especially in the arid states of CO, WY, NM, UT and TX.
  • Operators are becoming increasingly aware that recycling and reusing treated effluent is both cost effective and socially responsible


Posted by William (Bill) Jones, VP Operations, FilterBoxx
FilterBoxx provides mobile equipment that is permitted, proven, reliable and cost effective in delivering recycled water to our customers