Report identifies ways to reduce water contamination from oil and gas development in Texas
Report identifies ways to reduce water contamination from oil and gas development in Texas.
A new report from the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) is shedding more light on what we know and don’t know about the potential health and environmental impacts caused by oil and gas development in Texas.
In fact, according to the report, spilling or leaking wastewater and other substances is the most likely pathway for surface water contamination from oil and gas development in Texas.
Yet Texas is the only major state that doesn’t require companies to report their produced water spills.
Managing the strain on freshwater, without causing more environmental problems TAMEST also looks at the way industry uses water more generally.
Water scarcity is driving debate about whether or not companies should drill wells with brackish (salty) water, or use their own wastewater, rather than freshwater.
This practice could help alleviate water scarcity concerns.
However, as TAMEST notes, the use of these alternative resources “increases the potential for spills or leaks that could lead to further environmental impacts.” Therefore, while TAMEST notes that increased use of fresh water alternatives for oil and gas operations is desirable, the authors also recommend expanded research to understand the potential environmental trade-offs of increasing this practice.
According to the report, “In Texas, both economics and risk considerations dictate that much of the produced water will continue to be injected in deep wells or used as fracturing fluid to minimize impacts on other water sources.” The TAMEST report goes further, saying there are “potential negative impacts of trace contaminants in produced water that might limit their beneficial use” outside the oilfield.
There’s no doubt that water management in the oilfield can and should be improved.