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Texas’ environmental agency enables companies to increase oilfield wastewater disposal in rivers

Researchers are still studying the chemical makeup of “produced water” from Permian Basin oil fields. But regulators say they’re ready to issue permits to discharge the water into rivers and creeks.

Fracking's water demand requires the construction of ponds like these, which store millions of gallons of fresh water. Aug. 21, 2013.

The Pecos River divides Crane and Pecos Counties in the Texas Permian Basin. In August 2023, much of the river had dried through the region.

Texas granted authority to permit discharges of produced water

98th Meridian

Potential fracking wastewater discharges in arid West Texas raise concerns

Produced water is stored in tanks outside Pecos, Texas in August 2023. Disposing of billions of gallons of produced water is a growing challenge for the oil and gas industry in Texas.

Texas plows ahead of scientific research 

The Pecos River runs from New Mexico through the Texas Permian Basin. In Reeves County in August 2023, the riverbed was mostly dry following a summer of high temperatures and little rainfall. The Pecos River has been discussed for produced water discharges.

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Energy Environment State government Texas Railroad Commission Water supply