98th Meridian Foundation Urges EPA to Promote Beneficial Re-use of Oilfield Water

AUSTIN, Texas, July 2, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The 98th Meridian Foundation - a Texas-based nonprofit aimed at igniting high-level dialogue around the water, land and energy nexus - is publishing comments issued to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imploring the federal agency to craft rules that encourage and promote alternative beneficial re-use of produced water, among other regulatory recommendations.

"Managing produced water is one of the most pressing issues currently facing the industry," said David Porter, Chairman and Founder of 98th Meridian Foundation. "As the industry and general public become more conscientious of water conservation and environmental concerns, regulators are going to need to do more to encourage alternative methods for managing this water while allowing innovation to flourish in the oil patch."

The incredible surge in oil and gas production over the last decade has led to a corresponding increase in the amount of produced water, which is an inevitable byproduct of producing an oil or natural gas well. While the most commonly employed management method is to dispose of the water using underground injection, the need to explore expanded uses of this water, both in and outside of the oilfield, will only continue to increase without bold, innovative solutions.

Identifying and investigating new approaches to existing challenges that fall within the intersection of water, energy and land is the goal and mission of Porter's 98th Meridian Foundation, which issued the comments in response to EPA's draft study, Study of Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management Under the Clean Water Act, disseminated in May.

Specifically, the Foundation points to a 2015 pilot project in which the RRC partnered with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and private companies to irrigate a cotton crop in Pecos, Texas using recycled produced water. Irrigating the crop with a blended mixture of groundwater and produced water resulted in no reduction of cotton yield or lint quality.

"Innovative solutions to re-using produced water, such as this, should be more widely explored and if proven safe, broadly accepted by regulatory agencies. Encouraging this type of activity through grants, permits or rule exemptions allows universities, NGOs, industry and government to conduct research and determine the appropriate maximum level of total dissolved solids (TDS), as well as other necessary requirements and standards for such re-usage."

Porter's organization also argues for state regulation of produced water versus federal oversight, especially discharges of produced water, as state regulators are much more familiar with and better understand unique geologic conditions, environmental factors and other relevant circumstances.

Additional recommendations include EPA tailoring standards for discharge from onshore oil and gas facilities based on the quality of water into which it is being discharged, instead of geographic relation to the 98th meridian.

As a former Commissioner on the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) - the regulatory body with primary jurisdiction over oil and gas and related industries in Texas - Porter has long been concerned about produced water management. After leaving the Commission in 2017, he launched the 98th Meridian Foundation, which issued its first white paper in March on this topic, titled Texas Disposal and Injection Well Regulation.

To read the complete comments issued to EPA, please visit the 98th Meridian Foundation's website here.

About 98th Meridian Foundation
The 98th Meridian Foundation aims to lead a high-level dialogue around the land, energy and water nexus, and provide insightful recommendations to solving various interrelated issues. Visit http://www.98thmeridianfoundation.org for more information.

SOURCE 98th Meridian Foundation