Pacific Section AAPG, SPE and SEPM Joint Technical Conference

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Central Valley Water Board Oilfield Activities

Abstract

The California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley Region (CVWB) regulates the discharge of waste to land and surface water in the Central Valley. The CVWB operates under the umbrella of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the California Environmental Protection Agency. Our efforts are directed primarily at issues associated with the land discharge of produced water and the use of drilling mud sumps. Recently, we have been working with SWRCB staff to address issues related to recently promulgated well stimulation regulations and associated groundwater monitoring. We also work cooperatively with our sister State agencies in addressing oilfield issues such as the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources. CVWB staff are working with petroleum production companies to address the disposal of produced water. Our goals are that the water be recycled as appropriate and any discharge of these wastes be in a manner protective of water quality and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies. Staff is working to update Waste Discharge Requirements for facilities discharging produced water to land to bring them into compliance with existing laws, regulations, and policies. Sumps which cannot comply with applicable requirements will have to change their discharge practices or close. Historically, the use of mud sumps during drilling operations was covered under a conditional waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements (Waiver). This Waiver was readopted by the CVWB in December of 2013 and no longer includes drilling wastes from oil and gas drilling operations. The disposal of these drilling wastes is now being regulated through a SWRCB General Waste Discharge Requirements (SBGO). For coverage under the SBGO, an operator submits a Notice of Intent with supporting technical information, and if appropriate, the operator is enrolled under the SBGO with the issuance of a Notice of Applicability (NOA). CVWB staff are evaluating current practices for handling drilling wastes and will be evaluating whether additional requirements are needed to be protective of water quality.