Texas Water - The Question of Quality
- Jim C. Herring (Texas Railroad Commission)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 1970
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,525 - 1,527
- 1970. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal
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The production of oil and gas, and the marketing of petroleum products, has bad a dizzying impact in this petroleum products, has bad a dizzying impact in this century on the growth and complexity of the political institutions of Texas, and on the economy of this state. As a natural resource providing almost unlimited reserves of energy for all phases of the industry, petroleum achieved a preeminent position in the economic petroleum achieved a preeminent position in the economic and industrial growth of this state within decades after initial discoveries revealed that vast, untapped supplies of oil and gas were available.
In those early days of exploration and production, there was little awareness of the potential water quality problems that were developing in oil and gas problems that were developing in oil and gas producing areas. This lack of awareness was the result of the producing areas. This lack of awareness was the result of the limited technology in the early days of oil production, and the little emphasis on water needs, water conservation and water development. Some of the problems that were later to plague all of us bad not made problems that were later to plague all of us bad not made themselves apparent, and time has compounded the gravity of them.
In part, this water quality problem was obscured because the use of water was limited, and the supplies appeared ample for our future needs. Thus the loss of a water well here and there from increased salinity of the water, or the alteration of quality in the water of a stream, was felt only locally; and oil royalties tended to ease the pain even there. Additionally, however, is the sad fact that time has been a diligent enemy in compounding the problem. Equipment in old wells has deteriorated, resulting in subsurface leakage of oilfield brines. Over many years, brines have entered ground-water supplies, have moved with the hydraulic gradient of the aquifer to points of discharge in surface water courses and water wells so that pollution is detected at points that may be many miles from the source and impossible to trace. The ratio of salt water production to oil production is increasing in many old production to oil production is increasing in many old fields. Operators responsible for drilling and abandoning many wells have moved on or disappeared, leaving unplugged or improperly plugged wells discharging salt water into ground and surface waters.
As water use has multiplied, it has become evident that our supplies of water from all sources are ample only within the framework of certain rigid conditions, and important among these conditions is that all reasonable treatment and handling of waste water discharges be carried out to maintain water quality and limit or control pollution.
Not only has the use of water grown by leaps and bounds, but the variety of uses has multiplied. Water quality standards imposed by this multiplicity of uses are high, and industrial and municipal growth are dependent on the availability of good-quality sources of supply.
In Texas, water is obtained from 23 river basins and intervening coastal areas, and seven major aquifers underlying about 65 percent of the state. Additional important supplies of water are obtained from. minor aquifers in local areas. Quality of water in these streams and subsurface aquifers ranges within fairly wide limits, and changes in quality of either ground or surface water in a local area potentially affect the entire water body involved.
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