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Abstract: Historical Effect of Produced Oil Waste Waters on Ground Water in a Portion of the Edison Oilfield, Kern County, California


A study of water analyses from 1942 to 1992 obtained from the State Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Kern Water Agency, the Arvin-Edison Water Storage District and oil producers in the central portion of the Edison Oilfield was undertaken to determine the effect of percolation of oilfield produced wastewaters discharged to unlined sumps upon underlying groundwaters. The three critical constituents used to determine water quality are electrical conductivity, chlorides and boron. A comparison of these constituents over a 14 year period was mapped in the study area to show the quality of ground water beneath oil producing areas studied.

Specific oil field facilities subject to waste discharge requirements were graphed over a period of time for each of the critical constituents. Recharge rates of fresh water imported via canals into percolation ponds by the Arvin-Edison Storage District and of produced waters discharged to unlined sumps are evaluated. Reasons for the lack of percolation of oilfield waters from unlined sumps into the subsurface are noted and substantiated by the Arvin-Edison Water Storage District

Despite the fact that the volume of oilfield waste water discharged to unlined sumps has increased significantly over the 50 year study period, groundwater quality has improved. Further confirmation that groundwater quality is not being degraded by oilfield waste water discharge is the fact that boron sensitive citrus and grape crops have increased areally by 450% in existing oil producing areas over the last 21 years.

Search and Discovery Article #90945©1997 AAPG Pacific Section Meeting, Bakersfield, California