The issue of water availability is covered in detail in Stage 4—Development and Production when regular withdrawals of large quantities of water come into play. As many of the impacts can be alleviated or avoided by appropriate planning, it is worth considering water management options at this stage of development. Furthermore, operators are sometimes required to submit their plans for water sourcing as part of the permitting process. It can be helpful for the company to develop a water-sourcing plan whether or not it is required, in order to understand existing water sources and demands and how the company’s needs will interact with them.
To find out how water withdrawals and uses are regulated in your state, you can consult with the water quality state engineer at the state’s department of water resources. As part of the information-sharing sessions between local officials and company representatives mentioned above, questions to discuss could include:
- What are the sources of water (ground or surface) in your community and how are they used (drinking, recreation, agriculture, livelihoods, energy generation)?
- What water source will the project use? If relevant, how might it impact other important uses of water in the community?
- When will the water withdrawals for the project take place?
- Will the project provide infrastructure that increases access to water? If so, will the community be able to use that water?
- What will happen to the wastewater? Will it be treated and returned to the water cycle, injected into rock formations, or reused for operations?