Oklahoma joins coalition exploring produced water possibilities

Representatives from Oklahoma, as a part of the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), worked collaboratively with scientists, regulatory officials, members of academia, the oil and gas industry, and environmental groups to explore roles produced water might play in developing greater water certainty.

Out of that effort, the GWPC has released a report that examines current regulations, practices, and research needed to expand the use of produced water, a byproduct of oil and gas production, as a resource.

“Oklahoma is a national leader in addressing the importance of water, energy and environmental challenges, so having a voice in this report was critical to its success,” said Oklahoma DEQ’s Shellie Chard who served as the Water Quality Co-Chair for the study.  “The Produced Water Report maintains that water reuse is possible and may be cost effective in some situations, which is important for drought susceptible areas of our state where the reused water makes fresh water available for drinking. This is an incredibly important step forward in water management.”

According to the report, fresh water stress is driven by rising populations, regional droughts, declining ground water levels and several other factors. When surface water is scarce, communities and industries typically turn to ground water to meet their fresh water needs.  Produced water may become a resource that could reduce the use of fresh water in specific locations.

“This report, and the valued input of representatives from Oklahoma, including the oil and gas industry which played a key role in information gathering, will be vital to Oklahoma’s future use of produced water.  As an energy leader, Oklahoma is uniquely positioned to benefit from the ideas that are included in the Produced Water Report. The report highlights our state’s forward thinking and will be crucial in improving the ability to reuse this water,” said DEQ Executive Director Scott Thompson.

Most oil and natural gas produced water is reinjected deep underground into producing oil and gas reservoirs to enhance production or into porous rocks for disposal. Presently, the reuse of produced water for uses other than enhanced oil recovery accounts for less than 1 percent of water produced. The report identifies challenges limiting the reuse of produced water and provides a framework for the evaluation of reuse options.

The full report, Produced Water: Regulations, Current Practices & Research Needs, can be downloaded on the GWPC web site at www.gwpc.org/producedwater.

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