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Effluent Guidelines

Study of Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management

""EPA is conducting a study that will take a holistic look at how the Agency, states, tribes and stakeholders regulate and manage wastewater from the oil and gas industry.

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Large volumes of wastewater are generated in the oil and gas industry, and projections show that these volumes will only increase. Currently the majority of this wastewater is managed by disposing of it using a practice known as underground injection, where that water can no longer be accessed or used. The limits of injection are evident in some areas, and new approaches are becoming necessary. Some states and stakeholders are asking whether it makes sense to continue to waste this water, particularly in water scarce areas of the country, and what steps would be necessary to treat and renew it for other purposes.

Study Design

The focus of the Agency’s study will be to engage with states, tribes and stakeholders to consider available approaches to manage wastewater from both conventional and unconventional oil and gas extraction at onshore facilities. EPA’s study will address questions such as how existing federal approaches to produced waterHelpProduced waterThe fluid brought up from the hydrocarbon-bearing strata during the extraction of oil and gas, and includes, where present, formation water, injection water, and any chemicals added downhole or during the oil/water separation process. [40 CFR 435.33 (v)] management under the Clean Water Act can interact more effectively with state and tribal regulations, requirements or policy needs, and whether potential federal regulations that may allow for broader discharge of treated produced water to surface waters are supported. EPA is particularly interested in working with its regulatory partners at the state level, who are at the forefront of the changing industry, and often manage complex water allocation programs under state law.

EPA is consulting with states, tribes and stakeholders this summer, including industry and NGOs. The Agency is planning to hold a public meeting in Washington, D.C. to report on what we have learned and to allow stakeholders to provide additional input. EPA then plans to prepare a white paper that it can use to inform next steps. Following this study, EPA will determine if future Agency actions are appropriate to further address oil and gas extraction wastewater.

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Public Meeting

EPA will conduct a public meeting to report on what it has learned to date and provide stakeholders the opportunity to provide additional input.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018, 10:30 am - 4 pm
EPA Headquarters, William J. Clinton Building—East
1201 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Room 1153

The meeting will begin with EPA’s status report on the study. This will be followed by a panel discussion on the work happening across the federal family to coordinate federal resources and reduce duplication on cross-cutting water issues. The public input session will begin at 12:30 pm.

Those wishing to attend and/or speak can register at Please provide your name, organization, email address and indicate whether you plan to speak. Each speaker will be limited to three minutes. Registration is recommended but not required for this meeting. For security reasons, we request that you bring photo identification with you to the meeting. Seating will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Federal Triangle MapFederal Triangle Campus (click to enlarge)Please note that parking is very limited in downtown Washington, and use of public transit is recommended. The EPA Headquarters complex is located near the Federal Triangle Metro station. Upon exiting the Metro station, walk east to 12th Street. On 12th Street, walk south to Constitution Avenue. At the corner, turn right onto Constitution Avenue and proceed to the EPA East Building entrance.

If you are unable to attend, you can submit a written statement at: Enter Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW–2018–0618. Follow the online instructions for submitting a written statement. Once submitted, written statements cannot be edited or withdrawn. EPA may publish any written statement received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI). For additional submission methods, information about CBI, and general guidance on effective written submissions, please see Commenting on EPA Dockets.

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Related Information

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Additional Information