Releases of NaCl-rich (>100 000 mg/L) water that is co-produced from petroleum wells can adversely affect the quality of ground and surface waters. To evaluate produced water impacts on lakes, rivers and streams, an assessment of the contamination potential must be attainable using reliable and cost-effective methods. This study examines the feasibility of using geographic information system (GIS) analysis to assess the contamination potential of Cl to Skiatook Lake in the Hominy Creek drainage basin in northeastern Oklahoma. GIS-based predictions of affects of Cl within individual subdrainages are supported by measurements of Cl concentration and discharge in 19 tributaries to Skiatook Lake. Dissolved Cl concentrations measured in October, 2004 provide a snapshot of conditions assumed to be reasonably representative of typical inputs to the lake. Chloride concentrations ranged from 5.8 to 2300 mg/L and compare to a value of 34 mg/L in the lake. At the time of sampling, Hominy Creek provided 63% of the surface water entering the lake and 80% of the Cl load. The Cl load from the other tributaries is relatively small (<600 kg/day) compared to Hominy Creek (11 900 kg/day) because their discharges are relatively small (<0.44 m3/s) relative to Hominy Creek (3.1 m3/s). Examination of chemical components other than Cl in stream and lake waters indicates that many species, such as SO4, cannot be used to assess contamination potential because they participate in a number of common biogeochemical processes that alter their concentrations. GIS estimates of well density, well proximity to tributaries (wells within 200 m), and subdrainage area identified tributaries with the most potential for Cl contamination. Tributaries with large measured Cl concentrations (>150 mg/L) were generally in subdrainages with greater well density (>15 wells/km2), relatively large numbers of petroleum wells in close proximity (>2 proximity wells/stream km), and relatively small discharge (<0.005 m3/s). GIS calculations of subdrainage areas can be used to estimate the expected discharge of the tributary for each subdrainage. GIS-based assessment of Cl contamination potential at Skiatook Lake and at other lakes surrounded by oil fields can proceed even when direct measurements of Cl or discharge in tributary streams may be limited or absent.
Additional publication details
Use of dissolved chloride concentrations in tributary streams to support geospatial estimates of Cl contamination potential near Skiatook Lake, northeastern Oklahoma