The ability to store produced water is critical factor in both production and waste management in the oil and gas industry. In an arid region like New Mexico which is groundwater dependent, protecting existing freshwater resources is also essential. There are three primary reasons for storage of produced water: temporary storage prior to disposal, for evaporation, and increasingly for reuse. The length of time, location, and the way in which water is stored, as well as its quality influences its potential to impact groundwater resources.

The objective of this work is to understand both locational and situational groundwater vulnerability due to leaks from storage facilities. To evaluate locational vulnerability, a spatially-based screening tool is developed based on the siting requirements associated with the three purposes of produced water storage purposes. Next, the speed of transport of produced water through the vadose zone is modeled using Hydrus 2D software. We evaluate situational vulnerability due to factors including produced water chemistry, liner or tank defects or failures, and weather changes. This work evaluates how locational and situational parameters contribute to overall vulnerability and the range of uncertainties associated with each parameter.

Primary Author/Conference Presenter:
Katie Zemlick
Graduate Research Assistant
University of New Mexico
Dept. of Civil Engineering & the Center for Water and the Environment
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Elmira Kalhor, University of New Mexico, Dept. of Economics, Albuquerque, NM
EJ Sullivan Graham, University of New Mexico, Dept. of Civil Engineering & the Center for Water and the Environment