Texas Produced Water Consortium Appoints First Director

The Texas Produced Water Consortium was formed in an effort to expand the reuse and management of produced water and has announced its first program director.

Rusty Smith has been appointed to the consortium post that will be based at Texas Tech University. He is a graduate of both Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, and Texas Tech, where he received his master’s degree in business administration.

The consortium was created by law introduced by State Sen. Charles Perry and signed by Governor Greg Abbott this summer. Although the consortium is just getting organized and Smith has just been appointed to the post, he emailed the reporter Telegram to discuss his new job.

“Our top priority in this first year is the preparation of a report to the Texan legislature, as through the Senate Bill 601 of the 87th everyone involved is committed to finding more ways to use the water produced in a meaningful way that goes beyond current industry standards for reuse and / or injection. “

The purpose of the consortium is to bring together information resources to study economics, technologies, and environmental and health aspects related to the beneficial use of produced water. To that end, Smith said, the report must include any proposed changes to existing laws or regulations, guidelines for setting permitting and testing standards, an economic model for the beneficial use of produced water that protects public health and the environment, as well a practicable pilot project included project for state participation in a treatment plant for produced water.

The group’s first task is already underway, he reported: to inform the public about the work of the group and to encourage stakeholder engagement to inform and guide the ongoing research and investigation efforts.

“We are finalizing the membership structure and agreement,” Smith wrote, adding that first year participation will cost a flat fee of $ 1,000 for any private organization or individual. “Members will have the opportunity, through our sub-committees, to participate in discussions with other private entities representing different industries and organizations as we build on this collective knowledge base.”

These sub-committees will focus on politics, standards, technology and economics. The consortium will continue to seek contributions from members on the fees and structure of the organization in subsequent years after submitting its report to the legislature.

Smith previously served as director of the Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs, responsible for all water issues, during the 85th legislative session. He then joined the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association as director of government and regulatory affairs. Most recently, he was project manager for corporate recruitment and innovation for the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance.

“Actually, I started as an intern in the Texas House of Representatives in 2009 as part of the Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy program at Texas A&M University and knew immediately that water policy would be one of, if not the most important, issue for our state in the foreseeable future,” wrote Smith about his background. “My first Senate job was with State Sen. Kel Seliger, who also helped me better understand and appreciate the importance of water policy in our state, especially when it comes to the continued success of the economic driver that drives oil -and gas industry. “

Legislators have been keen to address several water issues in Texas, he wrote, but there is still a long way to go.

“The creation of this consortium is obviously a big step in the right direction and, to me, signals a common focus of our legislative and executive branches on produced water and other water resources,” wrote Smith.

He continued, “To be honest, the greatest strength of this consortium is in the collective, not in me as an individual. I’m joined by three incredible co-directors of the faculty and a director of the faculty of economics, namely Drs. Eric Bernard, Venkatesh Uddameri, Marshall Watson, and Bradley Ewing. Together, they bring decades of experience and knowledge in the fields of petroleum and civil engineering, water resources, agriculture and economics to the consortium, along with several other faculty members who serve in an advisory capacity. Texas Tech University, and this consortium in particular, are extremely fortunate to have these people leading our research initiatives. I believe my background complements their expertise, and my mix of public and private political and industrial experience is a great asset to running the TxPWC’s business, liaising with members, and working with our university, government agencies, and everyone to facilitate other interested stakeholders as we work to find ways to use the water produced in Texas in an economical and beneficial way. “

Smith concluded, “There have been numerous advocates who have come and gone from the state capitol, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Chairman Charles Perry, chairman of the Texas Senate Committee on Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs is currently one of the strongest advocate of identifying and securing our future water resources, as evidenced by his vision for the work of this consortium. I believe that both the House and Senate, as well as some of our state agencies like the Railroad Commission of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, are very interested in this issue, and I look forward to seeing how we can all work together to address these issues . “

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