On September 10, 2019, at the 34th Annual WateReuse Symposium in San Diego, California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan that identifies priority actions and the leadership and collaboration necessary between governmental and non-governmental organizations to implement these actions.
Water reuse represents a major opportunity to support our nation’s communities and economy by bolstering safe and reliable water supplies for human consumption, agriculture, business, industry, recreation, and healthy ecosystems. “Forty states anticipate experiencing freshwater shortages in certain regions within their borders over the next decade,” said U.S. EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “Diversifying our nation’s water portfolio must be a nationwide priority, and water reuse has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come.”
The draft National Water Reuse Action Plan is the first initiative of this magnitude that is coordinated across the water sector; built upon extensive outreach, research and the prior engagement with the water sector. The inclusive approach used to develop the draft plan recognizes that meaningful advancement of water reuse is accomplished by working cooperatively with all water sector stakeholders.
The draft plan incorporates federal, state, tribal and local water perspectives and highlights key actions that support consideration and implementation of water reuse. EPA’s goal is to issue a final plan that will include clear commitments and milestones for actions that will further water reuse to bolster the sustainability, security, and resilience of the nation’s water resources.
EPA plans to solicit public input through a 90-day comment period in the public docket (docket number EPA-HQ-OW-2019-0174) once the Federal Register notice is published.
IPEC 2019 featured speaker Neil Nowak, P.E. of SCS Engineers
Solving the challenge of the disposal and reuse of millions of barrels of produced water (brine water) and flow-back water generated annually from the oil and gas industry in an environmentally safe, low cost, and efficient manner is possible. Effective and safe technology is the evaporation of the water in lined containment ponds after separation and removal of the hydrocarbon component from the water. These ponds are used to store the water for potential reuse as well.
Neil discusses several facilities located near Cheyenne and Dad, Wyoming, and near Cisco, Utah. They were all designed to evaporate water in a series of geomembrane lined ponds. Neil’s discussion will demonstrate that the black HDPE increases evaporation over the use of clay or unlined ponds. He also shows how there are other uses for these ponds, including the storage of the water for reuse and using white HDPE to reduce evaporation.
These facilities are operational 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 to the sites for disposal. The water is evaporated in ponds lined with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) as the top layer and by using a combination of factors favorable to the evaporative process such as the natural characteristics of the site, including the arid climate, windy conditions, and liner considerations and engineering making the ponds safe and effective.
Visit with Neil Nowak, P.E. of SCS Engineers and learn more about using this proven solution to produced and flow-back waters at IPEC 2019.
Oil, gas waste management involves a long, intensive permitting process and answering to regulatory agencies with demanding rules. “Operators must undertake an extensive geologic investigation and submit geotechnical analyses, drawings, fill progression, drainage, and a final grading plan. Additionally, a closure cost estimate is required to get bonding for closure,” says Neil Nowak, SCS Engineers project director who works with clients who own or manage oil and gas waste disposal sites in a recent Waste360 article entitled Three Industry “Bigs” Delve into Oil, Gas Waste Management as Market Surges.
Discoveries in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale are driving significant activities in the industry, and are creating a demand for environmental consultants and engineers, such as Nowak, helping to protect the environment while supporting the capital outlay by industry.
Now that the U.S. is a major player, the activities are going to impact our economy well into the future. The difference between previous discoveries and what is happening in the Permian Basin now is that we have stricter regulatory rules and both wastewater producers and waste management carefully follow them.
No one wants to endanger the environment and drinking water supplies, that’s bad business and unnecessary with today’s expertise and technologies available. “Our clients need a combination of industry know-how, geologist, hydrogeologists, and environmental engineers with decades of experience in hazardous waste management, water and soil containment and treatment,” states Nowak. “Protecting the environment is a part of doing business now.”
Want to know more? Meet the SCS O&G team at IPEC 2019