Produced Water

Overview

Produced WaterProduced water is defined as the water that exists in subsurface formations and is brought to the surface during oil and gas production. Water is generated from conventional oil and gas production, as well as the production of unconventional sources such as coal bed methane, tight sands, and gas shale. The concentration of constituents and the volume of produced water differ dramatically depending on the type and location of the petroleum product. Produced water accounts for the largest waste stream volume associated with oil and gas production.

Produced Water as a Resource: Identifying Opportunities & Challenges

The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) developed a multi-stakeholder working group to identify opportunities and challenges associated with utilizing produced water as a resource and to provide suggestions that policy makers, researchers, regulators and others can use to address them.

As freshwater resources have become more constrained, the ability to use produced water to offset freshwater demand both inside and outside of the oilfield will offer opportunities and challenges. Since the early days of oil and gas development, the water brought to the surface as a byproduct of the oil and gas production process has been considered a waste. It was not until the 1930s that some of this “produced water” began to be injected back into producing reservoirs as a means of enhancing oil production. When unconventional oil and gas development began in earnest in the early 2000s, the need for water resources to conduct hydraulic fracturing provided a potential new use for produced water.

The working group consists of state oil and gas and water quality regulatory officials, industry, environmental NGOs, academics and others to develop a report that can be used by policy makers, researchers and regulators to further the goal of conserving freshwater by identifying current practices, research needs, opportunities and challenges for facilitating produced water use instead of fresh water, where possible. 

Additional Resources

News

Produced Water May Provide Relief for Declining Water Supplies in Areas of the US

OKLAHOMA CITY, June 24, 2019 - The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) released today a report t...

Events

09/27/2021 – 09/29/2021
Virtual Conference

The GWPC brings it all together with an in-person multi-day Annual Forum conference in the month of September. The GWPC Annual Forum is the place for attendees to continue the discussion on topics of importance through live sessions, interactive roundtables and discussion groups, and networking opportunities. Registration fees and hotel information will be announced soon.

Publications

02/2020

U.S. Produced Water Volumes And Management Practices In 2017

In February 2020, the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and Ground Water Research & Education Foundation (GWREF) released the report, “U.S. Produced Water Volumes and Management Practices in 2017.”This report focuses solely on produced water volumes and the types of water management practices that are used. It entails a third set of data, spaced five years apart, of produced water volumes and management. This will serve as an excellent resource for state and federal members, researchers, and others. For further information about this report please contact Mike Nickolaus at the GWPC [email protected], 405.516.4972.

06/2019

Produced Water Report: Regulations, Current Practices & Needs

The GWPC released a 'Produced Water Report' on June 24, 2019, 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.

Led by its member states, the GWPC brought together a collaboration of 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. The report consists of three focused modules which include:

  • Module 1: Current Legal, Regulatory & Operational Frameworks
  • Module 2: Produced Water Reuse in Unconventional Oil & Gas Operations
  • Module 3: Produced Water Reuse & Research Needs Outside Oil & Gas Operations

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

12/2015

Oklahoma Produced Water Project Summary

The principal objective of this project was to compile information in order to better understand produced water discharge, disposal, and re-use issues, regulatory requirements, options and opportunities in the state of Oklahoma.

04/2015

Produced Water Volumes and Management Practices (2012 Data)

4/15/2015 The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) is pleased to provide an updated version of our 2009 report on U.S. Produced Water Volumes and Management Practices.  This 2015 report, which contains data for 2012, discusses the amounts of water brought to the surface during oil and gas production and details many of the current minimization, treatment, re-use and disposal protocols used to manage produced water.  It also contains state by state produced water summaries.  The report was developed for the GWPC by John Veil of Veil Environmental, LLC.  We think you will find this report both thorough and valuable. 

01/2015

State Oil And Gas Regulations Designed To Protect Water Resources

In step with dramatic industry growth over the past five years, states have substantially improved ground water protection laws and regulations governing oil and natural gas production. State regulatory strategies differ in response to unique local circumstances and characteristics; over time, they evolve to address public concerns about the safety and environmental impact of oil and gas development, as well as rapidly changing technologies, new field discoveries, revised leading operational practices, internal and external reviews, and regulatory experience.

08/2011

State Oil & Gas Regulations Designed To Protect Water Resources

The role of state oil and gas agencies in protecting groundwater through investigation and regulatory reform.

Resolutions

Resolution 17-1

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