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Sheridan, WY, United States

Bern C.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Boehlke A.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Engle M.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Engle M.A.,University of Texas at El Paso | And 3 more authors.
Hydrogeology Journal | Year: 2013

Disposal of produced waters, pumped to the surface as part of coalbed methane (CBM) development, is a significant environmental issue in the Wyoming portion of the Powder River Basin, USA. High sodium adsorption ratios (SAR) of the waters could degrade agricultural land, especially if directly applied to the soil surface. One method of disposing of CBM water, while deriving beneficial use, is subsurface drip irrigation (SDI), where acidified CBM waters are applied to alfalfa fields year-round via tubing buried 0.92 m deep. Effects of the method were studied on an alluvial terrace with a relatively shallow depth to water table (∼3 m). Excess irrigation water caused the water table to rise, even temporarily reaching the depth of drip tubing. The rise corresponded to increased salinity in some monitoring wells. Three factors appeared to drive increased groundwater salinity: (1) CBM solutes, concentrated by evapotranspiration; (2) gypsum dissolution, apparently enhanced by cation exchange; and (3) dissolution of native Na-Mg-SO4 salts more soluble than gypsum. Irrigation with high SAR (∼24) water has increased soil saturated paste SAR up to 15 near the drip tubing. Importantly though, little change in SAR has occurred at the surface. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (outside the USA). Source

Bern C.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Breit G.N.,U.S. Geological Survey | Healy R.W.,U.S. Geological Survey | Zupancic J.W.,BeneTerra LLC | Hammack R.,U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory
Agricultural Water Management | Year: 2013

Water co-produced with coal-bed methane (CBM) in the semi-arid Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana commonly has relatively low salinity and high sodium adsorption ratios that can degrade soil permeability where used for irrigation. Nevertheless, a desire to derive beneficial use from the water and a need to dispose of large volumes of it have motivated the design of a deep subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) system capable of utilizing that water. Drip tubing is buried 92. cm deep and irrigates at a relatively constant rate year-round, while evapotranspiration by the alfalfa and grass crops grown is seasonal. We use field data from two sites and computer simulations of unsaturated flow to understand water and solute movements in the SDI fields. Combined irrigation and precipitation exceed potential evapotranspiration by 300-480. mm annually. Initially, excess water contributes to increased storage in the unsaturated zone, and then drainage causes cyclical rises in the water table beneath the fields. Native chloride and nitrate below 200. cm depth are leached by the drainage. Some CBM water moves upward from the drip tubing, drawn by drier conditions above. Chloride from CBM water accumulates there as root uptake removes the water. Year over year accumulations indicated by computer simulations illustrate that infiltration of precipitation water from the surface only partially leaches such accumulations away. Field data show that 7% and 27% of added chloride has accumulated above the drip tubing in an alfalfa and grass field, respectively, following 6 years of irrigation. Maximum chloride concentrations in the alfalfa field are around 45. cm depth but reach the surface in parts of the grass field, illustrating differences driven by crop physiology. Deep SDI offers a means of utilizing marginal quality irrigation waters and managing the accumulation of their associated solutes in the crop rooting zone. © 2012. Source

Engle M.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Engle M.A.,University of Texas at El Paso | Gallo M.,University of Naples "LOrientale" | Schroeder K.T.,U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Environmental and Ecological Statistics | Year: 2014

Water quality monitoring data typically consist of J parameters and constituents measured at I number of static locations at K sets of seasonal occurrences. The resulting I × J × K three-way array can be difficult to interpret. Additionally, the constituent portion of the dataset (e.g., major ion and trace element concentration, pH, etc.) is compositional in that it sums to a constant (e.g., 1 kg/L) and is mathematically confined to the simplex, the sample space for compositional data. Here we apply a Tucker3 model on centered log-ratio data to find low dimensional representation of latent variables as a means to simplify data processing and interpretation of three years of seasonal compositional groundwater chemistry data for 14 wells at a study site in Wyoming, USA. The study site has been amended with treated coalbed methane produced water, using a subsurface drip irrigation system, to allow for irrigation of forage crops. Results from three-way compositional data analysis indicate that primary controls on water quality at the study site include: Solutes concentration by evapotranspiration, cation exchange, and dissolution of native salts. These findings agree well with results from more detailed investigations of the site. In addition, the model identified Ba uptake during gypsum precipitation in some portions of the site during the final 6-9 months of investigation, a process for which the timing and extent had not previously been identified. These results suggest that multi-way compositional analyses hold promise as a means to more easily interpret water quality monitoring data. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA). Source

Sams J.I.,U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory | Smith B.D.,U.S. Geological Survey | Veloski G.,U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory | Minsley B.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 3 more authors.
Proceedings of the Symposium on the Application of Geophyics to Engineering and Environmental Problems, SAGEEP | Year: 2010

The National Energy Technology Laboratory and the U.S. Geological Survey are collaborating with BeneTerra LLC to comprehensively monitor a sub-surface drip irrigation (SDI) system at a site in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Wyoming. Irrigation water for the SDI system is coalbed natural gas (CBNG) co-produced water. The study is being conducted at the Headgate Draw area, located approximately 17 km south of Arvada, Wyoming at the confluence of Crazy Woman Creek and the Powder River. The study site encompasses six fields and covers an approximate area of 1.2 km2 (Figure 1). The project is an integration of geophysical, geochemical, and soil science studies. The third year of a five year geophysical monitoring study is reported here. Source

Engle M.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Bern C.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Healy R.W.,U.S. Geological Survey | Sams J.I.,U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Geosciences | Year: 2011

One method to beneficially use water produced from coalbed methane (CBM) extraction is subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) of croplands. In SDI systems, treated CBMwater (injectate) is supplied to the soil at depth, with the purpose of preventing the buildup of detrimental salts near the surface. The technology is expanding within the Powder River Basin, but little research has been published on its environmental impacts. This article reports on initial results from tracking water and solutes from the injected CBM-produced waters at an SDI system in Johnson County, Wyoming. In the first year of SDI operation, soil moisture significantly increased in the SDI areas, but well water levels increased only modestly, suggesting that most of the water added was stored in the vadose zone or lost to evapotranspiration. The injectate has lower concentrations of most inorganic constituents relative to ambient groundwater at the site but exhibits a high sodium adsorption ratio. Changes in groundwater chemistry during the same period of SDI operation were small; the increase in groundwater-specific conductance relative to pre-SDI conditions was observed in a single well. Conversely, groundwater samples collected beneath another SDI field showed decreased concentrations of several constituents since the SDI operation.Groundwater-specific conductance at the 12 other wells showed no significant changes. Major controls on and compositional variability of groundwater, surface water, and soil water chemistry are discussed in detail. Findings from this research provide an understanding of water and salt dynamics associated with SDI systems using CBM-produced water. Copyright ©2011. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists/Division of Environmental Geosciences. All rights reserved. Source

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