Primary Author | Conference Presenter:
Neil Nowak
Project Director
SCS Engineers
Greenwood Village, Colorado, USA

The problem to be solved is the disposal and re-use (if able) of millions of barrels of production water (brine water) and flow-back water generated annually from the oil and gas industry in an environmentally safe, low cost, and efficient manner. A technology that is effective and safe is the evaporation of the water in lined containment ponds after separation and removal of the hydrocarbon component from the water. Also, these ponds are used to store the water for potential re-use. They were designed to evaporate water in a series of geomembrane lined ponds. Purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the black HDPE increases evaporation over the use of clay or unlined ponds. Other uses for these ponds include storage of the water for re-use and using white HDPE to reduce evaporation.


These projects are complete and have been operational for a number of years, and continue to be expanded per their permit. The production and flow-back water from oil and gas wells in the area local to each site is trucked or piped to the sites for disposal or re-use. The water is evaporated in ponds lined with high density polyethylene (HDPE) as the top layer by using a combination of factors that are favorable to the evaporative process, including the following:

• Natural characteristics of the site, including the arid climate, windy conditions, and numerous sunny days,
• The top liner in the ponds is black HDPE, which creates a hot surface,
• HDPE liner was chosen to protect the surface and ground waters of the area and to assist with the evaporation of the water (evaporation is enhanced due to the black color of the liner).

Also, there is an increased desire to recycle and re-use the oilfield generated water for use in hydraulic fracturing of a production well.