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Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1318; doi:10.3390/su8121318

Evaluating the Feasibility of Using Produced Water from Oil and Natural Gas Production to Address Water Scarcity in California’s Central Valley

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Guangwei Huang and Xin Li
Received: 30 October 2016 / Revised: 9 December 2016 / Accepted: 12 December 2016 / Published: 14 December 2016
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Abstract

The current California drought has reduced freshwater availability, creating tensions between water users across the state. Although over 518 million m 3 of water were produced during fossil fuel production in California in 2014, the majority was disposed into Class II injection wells. There have been few attempts to assess the feasibility of using produced water for beneficial purposes, due in part to the difficulties of accessing, synthesizing and analyzing data regarding produced water quality and quantity. This study addresses this gap and provides a techno-economic assessment of upgrading produced water from California’s oil and natural gas activities and moving it to adjacent water-stressed regions. Results indicate that the four population centers facing the greatest water shortage risk are located in the Central Valley within a 161 km (100 mile) radius of 230 million m 3 of total treatable produced water. This volume can supply up to one million people-years worth of potable water. The cost of desalinating and transporting this water source is comparable in magnitude to some agricultural and local public water supplies and is substantially lower than bottled water. Thus, utilizing reverse osmosis to treat produced water might be a feasible solution to help relieve water scarcity in some drought-stricken regions of California. View Full-Text
Keywords: oil and gas development; produced water; water management; drought; Central Valley oil and gas development; produced water; water management; drought; Central Valley
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MDPI and ACS Style

Meng, M.; Chen, M.; Sanders, K.T. Evaluating the Feasibility of Using Produced Water from Oil and Natural Gas Production to Address Water Scarcity in California’s Central Valley. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1318.

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