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Produced Water Spills Devastate Soil, Groundwater, and Wildlife in Texas and Have Potentially Harmful Effects on Humans

Posted On 01/12/2024 By iSpring Water Systems
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Key Points

  1. The impact the oil and gas industry has on Texas
  2. T-Bar Ranch: an example of how produced water can contaminate drinking water supplies
  3. Produced water explained
  4. Insufficient protection against produced water spills 
  5. Protection using iSpring’s filtration systems  

Texas: Oil and Natural Gas Industry Negatively Affecting the State

Producing 43% of the nation’s crude oil and 25% of its natural gas, Texas’s economy is heavily reliant on this industry. Additionally, it aids our overall domestic economy and helps safeguard our national energy security. 

Although it is undeniable how crucial this industry is, it comes at a hefty cost to Texas and other areas where oil and gas extraction occurs. Each year, there are an average of 1,000 produced water spills in Texas alone. These spills have a profound and negative impact on the land, groundwater, and animals. In turn, the residents of the areas where produced water spills are common are at risk of exposure to dangerous toxins for years to come. 

T-Bar Ranch: Two Decades of Clean-Up Illustrate the Impact Produced Water Spills Have 

One example of the long-term negative effects negligence in this industry can have is that of T-Bar Ranch. Nearly 20 years ago, water contamination was discovered in the T-Bar Ranch well, which was purchased by the city of Midland as a source of drinking water. 

According to Inside Climate News, “The city found elevated levels of chlorides and total dissolved solids in several wells at the ranch, signs of produced water, and eventually sued the oil and gas company Heritage Standard Corporation for leaking produced water at its storage tanks and waste ponds, causing it to leach into the groundwater.”

This is a result of a produced water spill that went unaddressed. After 20 years of efforts and a multi-million dollar remediation project, they are working towards a resolution for this one spill. However, this is not always the case, and many spills go unreported. 

Dangers of Produced Water Spills 

When drilling for oil and gas, proprietary chemicals are used in combination with sand and water. Produced water is the waste that resurfaces. This not only includes the drilling liquids but also groundwater that may contain arsenic and benzene. 

Crude oils and refined petroleum products are composed of hydrocarbons and other organic and inorganic substances, including atoms of sulfur, nitrogen, and oxygen, as well as metals such as iron, vanadium, nickel, and chromium. Gasoline contains benzene, a known carcinogen for humans. It also contains hexane, which can negatively impact the nervous system. 

Allowing produced water to enter groundwater that ultimately finds its way into drinking water sources is detrimental to both humans and animals.

Because of the high salinity of produced water, it also wreaks havoc on soil and can render land barren.  

There are several other examples of the dangers of produced water spills. Two of them are those in West Virginia and North Dakota. In West Virginia, sediments with high levels of radium and less diverse microbial communities were discovered downstream from a produced water disposal facility.  In North Dakota, lithium, boron, and strontium were found downstream from a produced water spill. These are just two examples of why produced water is so dangerous, and these spills need to be addressed. 

Texas Government Must Take Action

While Texas is more largely impacted by produced water spills because of the prevalence of the oil industry, any community where produced water is present can be subject to experiencing the negative effects. 

In Texas, companies are not required to notify landowners when a spill takes place, nor is there a public database to research where produced water spills have taken place. Because of this, citizens do not know whether their water source is in jeopardy, leaving them vulnerable to consuming unsafe water. 

To put citizens’ minds at ease, the Texas Railroad Commission has come forward, stating that not all produced water spills are dangerous and assuring residents that spills that threaten groundwater are investigated. 

Ensuring Safe Drinking Water for You and Your Loved Ones

Without truly knowing if your water has been contaminated by a produced water spill, it is always best to err on the side of caution and seek ways to protect your family from potentially harmful toxins that may be lurking in your water. 

Three of our suggested filtration systems to address the concerns produced water raises are our WF150K, WCS45KG, and RO500AK-BN+UVF8

 

Our WF150K is a whole house system that purifies the water at the point of entry, providing pure, clean drinking water for every faucet in your home. It also  

  1. removes chlorine, lead, heavy metals, and benzene mentioned in the article, as well as pesticides, herbicides, and various other contaminants
  2. is tested by a third-party water lab to meet NSF/ANSI 42 and 53 standards
  3. features a patented filtration media formula that is backflushed and regenerated at the set cycles by the digital Smart Control Valve and is designed to last up to 10 years without changing filter media 
  4. helps extend the lifespan of your plumbing system and household appliance
  5. features a digital screen, allowing you to easily set your personalized auto-flush intervals
  6. is designed to allow for minimum maintenance and can filter up to 1,500,000 gallons of water before needing to be replaced 
  7. has a high service flow rate of up to 4 GPM

 

Our WCFM500K is a whole-house central water filtration system. This system

  1. is able to solve the water issue in the article by reducing iron (up to 12 ppm), manganese & hydrogen sulfide (up to 20 ppm), solids, and turbidity with 3-micron sediment filtration
  2. features a “Set & Forget'' digital control, which can let you personalize auto-flush intervals depending on your incoming water quality and usage
  3. can last for up to 10 years without the hassle of filter replacements.
  4. does not use any oxidizers or chemical feed other than the same air we breathe.

In addition to our whole-house models, we also feature under-the-sink systems for drinking water. One such system that will help address concerns with produced water is our RO500AK-BN+UVF8, a state-of-the-art reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system. This system 

  1. employs a four-stage water filtration system that removes up to 99% of over 1,000 contaminants, including lead, heavy metal, chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, and sodium mentioned above
  2. features a 2-in-1 sediment and carbon block filter, an advanced RO membrane, and a carbon alkaline filter that balances pH levels and enhances taste
  3. uses an LED UV light that filters out up to 99.9% of contaminants and has a lifespan of up to 7000 hours
  4. functions up to 4 times more efficient than traditional RO systems and has an exceptional pure water-to-wastewater ratio of up to 2:1
  5. features an automatic self-cleaning mode, which rinses the RO membrane for 20 seconds after 24 hours of disuse, prolonging its life
  6. filters up to 500 gallons of water per day with a stable flow rate that can fill an 8-ounce cup in just 10 seconds

 

If you have specific concerns with your water, it is always best to test your water and then find the filtration system that will address your individual water’s concerns. One of our customer service representatives is always available to answer your questions, whether it is in the pre-purchasing phase when you have product-related questions and are searching for the best water filtration system for your needs or in the post-purchase phase when you have questions about installation or maintenance. 

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