Treated produced water from oil and gas operations could help satisfy water demand from agricultural and industrial water consumers while conserving limited freshwater supplies.
To this end, Sweetwater Tech Resources, a California water treatment plant, will begin operations of the state’s first facility set up to convert billions of gallons of produced water annually into clean water streams for reuse.
The project, located in located in Wasco, near multiple active oil fields surrounding Bakersfield, will use Water Planet’s artificial-intelligence based IntelliFlux control software.
The project can help oil producers — it gives them a cost-competitive option to trucking wastewater to third-party disposal wells, Water Planet says. It also yields environmental benefits not only by reducing the amount of water disposed of but also by producing more water that can be reused in local agricultural and industrial water processes.
The facility started up in January at over 25,000 gallons of water per day under a temporary operating permit. It will scale to 420,000 gallons per day after the final permit is approved.
Ultimately, Sweetwater plans to run multiple water recycling facilities in the Bakersfield area treating up to 4 million gallons per day.
Water Planet and Sweetwater originally demonstrated the facility to local governmental regulators and oil producers in 2016.
“This facility is just the first step in providing a new, more sustainable solution for produced water management,” said Eric Hoek, Water Planet’s CEO in a statement. “Why waste a valuable water resource by injecting it deep in the earth where it is lost forever? Water reuse is the future, and this installation can serves as a model to be replicated in other water-stressed oil and gas producing regions around the world.”
For this project, Water Planet developed a system consisting of a multidisciplinary treatment train designed to remove several contaminants of concern including suspended solids, free oil and grease, dissolved organics, salts and minerals, including boron.
While it only represents a drop in the bucket when it comes to solving current and future water crises — a 40 percent water supply shortfall is expected globally by 2030, according to the United Nations — treating and reusing water a step in the right direction to better manage a limited resource.
Recycled water could help corporations better future proof their water supplies. A business as usual water management strategy won’t work — and represents a $63 trillion risk, according to CDP.
In another example of using recycled water for industrial processes, General Electric earlier this month partnered with wine industry services provider Winesecrets and the University of California Davis to pilot a program using captured rainwater in wine production.