The US Environmental Protection Agency announced in a press release that it is embarking on a large scale study to examine the wastewater management requirements and policies in the oil and gas industry. The motivation behind this study is to look at where current practices fall short, and to formulate and release suggestions for new federal regulations going forward.
In the oil and gas industries, in particular, large amounts of wastewater are generated and these amounts are constantly increasing. Currently, while the most common method of disposing of this wastewater is by using a method called underground injection, this does not maximize the potential for recycling of the water. Underground injection wastes huge volumes of water when it could potentially be treated and repurposed.
“Dealing with wastewater from oil and gas extraction and turning it into useable water is not an easy matter, but it’s a critical issue we need to work through,” Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Lee D. Forsgren noted.
The EPA decided to investigate waste water disposal methods at this time because new approaches and technologies have been created that are more efficient and which allow the water to be recycled. Being able to recycle waste water is especially important to and beneficial for dry regions where there are water shortages.
Jesse Pritts, an engineer in EPA’s water office and the leader of the study stated that numerous companies in the oil and gas industries have already voiced their interest in finding alternative ways to treat waste water which would allow for repurposing of the water.
In other industries, waste water is already routinely separated from solid waste, explains Roto-Rooter plumbing experts, in a process called sludge dewatering. Sludge Dewatering consists of separating solid and liquid waste for the most efficient and cost-effective disposal. The solid waste is referred to as sludge, and the dewatering process focuses on reducing the volume and weight to lower disposing costs. If the water separated from the waste could then be treated and repurposed costs could drop even further while significant amounts of fresh water could be saved or used for other purposes.