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Powder River Basin Groundwater Recovering From Coal-Bed Methane Areas

Drinking Water
Trevor T. Trujillo, Townsquare Media

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A new report shows groundwater levels are recovering in some parts of the Powder River Basin where coal-bed methane production has been on the decline.

That could be good news for ranchers. Many ranchers saw their stock wells and even their drinking water wells go dry during the coal-bed methane boom that began more than 15 years ago.

The boom has become a bust, but a Wyoming Geological Survey report notes a possible silver lining. The report documents rising water levels in 15 of 62 monitoring wells in the basin. Geologists note a correlation between declining gas production and recovering groundwater.

Coal-bed methane development involves pumping groundwater to the surface in such large volumes that it often is of limited use to landowners, even as the process depletes local aquifers.

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