"Researchers are still studying the chemical makeup of produced water from the Permian Basin. But regulators say they’re ready to issue permits to discharge the water into rivers and creeks."
"When a team of researchers at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi combed through Railroad Commission records several years ago, they found more than 50 permits allowing conventional oil and gas drillers to discharge oil field wastewater, known as produced water, into creeks and streams near the Eagle Ford shale basin in South Texas.
Although produced water contains naturally occuring toxins such as ammonia and radionuclides and also sometimes toxic drilling chemicals, the permits relied on companies self-reporting the contents. In their 2021 paper, the researchers found the permits allowed 700,000 gallons annually of untreated oil field wastewater to be dumped into small creeks and tributaries that cattle drank from.
“I had concerns about what I saw in the field, about cattle drinking that water,” said Dorina Murgulet, a hydrogeologist and co-author on the paper.
While the health and environmental effects of these discharges have never been studied, Texas regulators are moving forward to allow more discharges of oil field wastewater from conventional drilling and fracking into bodies of water before what scientists consider a thorough risk assessment is completed."