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Court: water from gas drilling must be regulated

DENVER (Map, News) - The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that water produced during coal-bed methane drilling is subject to state water law and companies extracting the natural gas must get water well permits or replace the water.

The decision issued Monday stems from a lawsuit by landowners in southwest Coorado who say their water supplies are threatened by companies pumping groundwater to free the natural gas in coal seams. They say companies should defer to water users with older water rights and replace water they use when it belongs to others.

The state engineer's office and BP America Production Co. argued the water is a waste product of the drilling and should be regulated under state oil and gas rules.

The state Supreme Court agreed with the state water court that the water is a beneficial and not just a nuisance.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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