Raton Basin
Benefits of Produced Water

Las Animas County, located in south central Colorado, is known for its dry, arid climate with rainfall averaging only 14 inches per year, even less than Denver averaging 15.8 inches.  Compare our climate to a desert that receives 10 inches or less per year.  Sadly, it’s pretty close.  In contrast, a city like Houston can generally count on at least 50 inches of precipitation per year!  That’s why any opportunity providing access to more good water is considered a gift – welcomed with open arms.

For many landowners, like the Salapich’s, who have agricultural operations in the western portion of the county, coal bed methane water is a much appreciated resource.  This additional water is a by-product of producing natural gas from the coal beds, up to 3500 feet in depth.

This extra produced water has:

  • Allowed local landowners to continue their agricultural operations, especially helpful during drought years
  • Improved range management by dispersing cattle grazing across a ranch by having multiple access points for water
  • Reduced costs during drought or dry seasons because ranchers are not paying high costs to haul water in for cattle or crop development for cattle feed
  • Improvement in wetland areas and enhanced growth of vegetation and natural grasses

“Since the addition of the discharge pond on our ranch, it has been beneficial in many ways.  Our horses and the indigenous wildlife, including elk, deer, bear, turkey and small game have all utilized this additional water source.  This has drawn more wildlife into our area and helped us significantly increase the amount of wildlife on our property.  Additionally, the quality of the water is so good that we have stocked the pond with bluegills, minnows and catfish that are now thriving and have been for the past three years.  It has also created a year round wetland area that is being utilized by ducks and geese as well,” said Fred Eichler, Apishapa landowner.

Socioeconomic Benefits of Coalbed Methane (CBM) Extraction and Water Production in Las Animas County

Several studies prepared in October 2012 by Harvey Economics evaluated these socioeconomic benefits. Summary sheets of the results are provided below.

Fiscal and Economic Benefits of Coalbed Methane (CBM) Extraction and Water Production in Las Animas County

Regional Water Supplies, Demands and the Role of Coalbed Methane (CBM) Produced Water in the Arkansas River Basin

Agriculture and Coalbed Methane (CBM) Produced Water in Las Animas County

Tourism and Recreation and Coalbed Methane (CBM) Produced Water in Las Animas County

Colorado Division of Water Resources – Water Division 2 Arkansas River Basin

The More You Know…

The coal bed methane (CBM) operators have many surface discharge points on the Apishapa and Purgatoire River Watersheds.  These surface discharge points, permitted and regulated by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE), afford local landowners access to water in excess of what nature itself would bring via ran and snowfall.

Norwest Corporation and Tetra Tech, with funding and operational support from CBM operators designed, installed, maintain and monitor the gauging stations on the Apishapa and Purgatoire Rivers.  CBM operators specifically chose these companies because of their technical expertise and recognition as leaders in project design and third party interpretation and analysis.

So, the more you know about the Apishapa and the Purgatoire Watershed Monitoring Projects, the more you’ll understand how the collected data and analysis ensure the quality of the produced water.

We encourage you to periodically review the ongoing data summaries on both websites below.

Apishapa Watershed Monitoring Project


Purgatoire Watershed Monitoring Project


Gary & Karen Salapich, Landowners, Apishapa Watershed
“During the nearly 10 years of access to produced water on my ranch, we have been able to continue and grow our cattle operations. The riparian areas are enhanced due to increased vegetation and diversity of plants. And opportunities for outfitting are improved because more wildlife come onto our property for access to food and water.”
- Warren McDonald