Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cleaning Up: Task Force Will Look for Solutions to Wastewater Problem

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cleaning Up: Task Force Will Look for Solutions to Wastewater Problem

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - A new Oklahoma task force will examine how to clean up the most pervasive drilling byproduct: billions of barrels of toxic wastewater.

Executives from the state's water, environmental and oil and gas regulatory agencies are searching for a single answer to two pressing issues: drought and earthquakes. But the Sooner State must overcome regulatory and logistical challenges before it can recycle wastewater on a large scale, petroleum engineer Kim Hatfield said.

Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director J.D. Strong will lead the working group as a part of the state's Water for 2060 goal of using no more water than was used when it was passed. The 2012 legislation aims to reduce fresh water use and plan for extended drought. Gov. Mary Fallin announced Tuesday during her annual water conference that Strong's task force would examine how to recycle or reuse wastewater from drilling. His group should also identify what industries could use non-potable water. Participants have not been selected.

Strong said the state must prepare for extended periods without rainfall. Wastewater from the oil and gas industry should be considered a resource, he said.

"We need to figure out how to tap into that marginal-quality resource," Strong said. "We need to look for every opportunity to reuse and recycle every drop of water we can."

Oklahoma's drilling boom led to a near-doubling of wastewater disposal in six years. About 1.5 billion barrels were injected in 2014, compared to about 849 million barrels in 2009, according to OGS Hydrologist Kyle Murray's research.

The dramatic increase in wastewater disposal has been linked to the state's spike in earthquakes in some areas over the last few years. Scientists agree temblors can be triggered by deep fluid injection. The most common way to dispose of that toxic liquid is to inject it in deep underground wells.

Ground Water Protection Council Associate Executive Director Dan Yates said Continental Resources Inc. …

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