More reductions and closures for waste water disposal wells across the state are on the way. Official numbers weren’t released as of Wednesday, but in all 635 have been closed or reduced this year.
The wells are used to dispose of highly concentrated salt water used during fracking.
But the move to reduce or close them is an old response based on plans made by state seismologists who are no longer there, leaving the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to make their best educated guess.
“The issue going forward, of course, is in trying to develop new plans and new ways of looking at things as well as monitoring what you’ve done, deciding hopefully before a major event, what more needs to be done,” Matt Skinner with the corporation said.
The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has risen by nearly 30 percent to 810. There were 585 in 2014. The number of higher magnitude quakes has also grown.
But reductions lead to other problems like what happens to all that potentially toxic water? In 2014 energy companies produced 1.5 billion barrels of waste water and it all has to go somewhere.
Governor Mary Fallin announced Tuesday at the Oklahoma Governor’s Water Symposium in Norman that she wanted to form a new group that would look at other solutions for getting rid of the water. Those close to the plans say it would be a way to collect opinions from energy, conservation, industry and agriculture experts.
In a release, Governor Fallin said in part "What a win-win... if we can turn wasted water into a useful resource, while at the same time reducing seismic activity caused by deep well injection."
Plans for the group will work alongside the Oklahoma Water Board’s plans for 2060. The board’s director J.D. Strong was named chair and a spokesperson for the board said they will be working closely with the new group once it’s created.