Assessment of surface water chloride and conductivity trends in areas of unconventional oil and gas development - Why existing national data sets cannot tell us what we would like to know

Water Resources Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

Heightened concern regarding the potential effects of unconventional oil and gas development on regional water quality has emerged, but the few studies on this topic are limited in geographic scope. Here we evaluate the potential utility of national and publicly available water-quality data sets for addressing questions regarding unconventional oil and gas development. We used existing U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data sets to increase understanding of the spatial distribution of unconventional oil and gas development in the U.S. and broadly assess surface water quality trends in these areas. Based on sample size limitations, we were able to estimate trends in specific conductance (SC) and chloride (Cl-) from 1970 to 2010 in 16% (n=155) of the watersheds with unconventional oil and gas resources. We assessed these trends relative to spatiotemporal distributions of hydraulically fractured wells. Results from this limited analysis suggest no consistent and widespread trends in surface water quality for SC and Cl- in areas with increasing unconventional oil and gas development and highlight limitations of existing national databases for addressing questions regarding unconventional oil and gas development and water quality.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Assessment of surface water chloride and conductivity trends in areas of unconventional oil and gas development - Why existing national data sets cannot tell us what we would like to know
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1002/2014WR016382
Volume 51
Issue 1
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union Publications
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center, John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis, Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 704
Last page 715
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N