Use of Recycled Oil Field Wastewater for Irrigation of Food Crops

April 7, 2016

Co-presenter, Tchobanoglous Water Lecture

The practice of using oil field wastewater in the agricultural sector has recently come under scrutiny. This practice stems from the fact that oil production in California requires a lot of water. The water-to-oil ratio is typically 10:1 and can be as high as 50:1 in some areas. In California, much of the oil production occurs at the southern end of the Central Valley (e.g. Kern County) in an arid region with a productive agricultural industry. Recycled oil field wastewater provides a much needed water supply. Concurrently, disposal practices of oil field wastewater-such as injection in deep wells and infiltration in ponds-are being limited.

Over the last several years information regarding chemical use in oil production has become increasingly available, raising awareness and concern regarding possible human health effects and ecosystem impacts. Review of the current practice of using oil field wastewater brings up many policy, legal, and technical issues. How should current practices be evaluated? How should irrigation using recycled water supplies be regulated? How should oil field wastewater be treated prior to use?

Downey Brand Partner Melissa Thorme along with Francis Spivey-Weber, Vice Chair, State Water Resources Control Board and Dr. Will Stringfellow, Unviersity of the Pacific, will address this complex and timely issue on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at the Inaugural Tchobanoglous Water Lecture Series at McGeorge School of Law.