In an environmentally safe, less costly, and efficient manner, the disposal and recycling of millions of gallons of production water (brine water) and flowback water generated from the oil and gas industry annually continue to be challenging. While new technologies are on the horizon, there remains a long road ahead to their implementation.
In his article in Geosynthetic News, Neil Nowak writes in detail about three sites in Wyoming, Utah, and Texas that are evaporating or recycling water in geomembrane-lined ponds. Nowak’s article demonstrates the successful use of black high-density polyethylene (HDPE) liners to increase evaporation over clay or unlined ponds and using a white liner to reduce evaporation relative to a black liner.
Each project has been operational for several years; they continue to expand under their permits. Nowak takes us through a combination of favorable factors to the evaporative process, including the natural characteristics of each sites’ climate and the business and environmental goals.
The projects are interesting in that each facility provides oil and gas production companies in the area with a large commercial alternative to production water and flowback disposal versus numerous small ponds or disposal via injection wells.
About the Author: over 30 years of experience in the consulting engineering industry, including civil, solid waste, produced water impoundments, stormwater engineering, and construction projects.
Mr. Nowak has managed environmental compliance, evaporation pond design and permitting, and construction quality assurance activities across the Southwest. As a land-use planner and Environmental Engineer, he explains how various environmental technologies work under specific conditions to companies and the public. Often he is called to public comment meetings and county commissioner meetings, where he prepares and presents project details for review and approval. He works closely with local, state, and federal regulatory agencies to ensure that the engineering and construction of sites comply with all current applicable requirements.