Extraction of natural gas from a confined coal aquifer requires the pumping of large amounts of groundwater, commonly referred to as produced water. Produced water from the extraction of coalbed natural gas is typically disposed into nearby constructed discharge ponds. The objective of this study was to collect produced water samples at outfalls and corresponding discharge ponds and monitor pH, electrical conductivity (EC), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), and alkalinity. Outfalls and corresponding discharge ponds were sampled from five different watersheds including Cheyenne River (CHR), Belle Fourche River (BFR), Little Powder River (LPR), Powder River (PR), and Tongue River (TR) within the Powder River Basin (PRB), Wyoming from 2003 to 2005. From Na, Ca, and Mg measurements, sodium adsorption ratios (SAR) were calculated, and used in a regression model. Results suggest that outfalls are chemically different from corresponding discharge ponds. Sodium, alkalinity, and pH all tend to increase, possibly due to environmental factors such as evaporation, while Ca decreased from outfalls to associated discharge ponds due to calcite precipitation. Watersheds examined in this study were chemically different form each other and most discharge ponds with in individual watersheds tended to increase in Na and SAR from 2003 to 2005. Since discharge pond water was chemically changing as a function of watershed chemistry, we predicted SAR of discharge pond water using a regression model. The predicted discharge pond water results suggested a high correlation (R2 = 0.83) to discharge well SAR. Overall, results of this study will be useful for landowners, water quality managers, and industry in properly managing produced water from the natural gas extraction.
Natural gasCBNG produced watersSaltsSodium Adsorption RatioSodicitySalinityIrrigation