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In southeastern New Mexico, produced water has Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) levels between 2,000 and 100,000 mg/L. Legal produced water handling practices before the 1970s caused intermittent releases that impacted regional groundwater, soils and vegetation.
In 2001, during the closure of a saltwater disposal system, two adjacent sites in Lea County, N.M., showed hydrocarbon and chloride impact in soil and groundwater. The operator reported findings to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division and began characterization with NMOCD approval to determine the extent and magnitude of groundwater impact.
Data collected quarterly from monitoring wells at these sites between 2002 and 2007 illustrate that historic releases of produced water impacted the surrounding area over time through elevated TDS concentrations. A treatment system was proposed in 2004 to provide water for beneficial use to land owners in the area. This article presents findings on the site conditions and the development and operation
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