Geosynthetics October/November 2021 - 29

Case Studies
Energy industries using HDPE
liners for flowback water
evaporation/recycling ponds
By Neil C. Nowak
T
he problem to be solved is the disposal and recycling of millions of gallons of
production water (brine water) and flowback water annually generated from
the oil and gas industry in an environmentally safe, less costly and efficient manner.
A technology that is effective and safe is the evaporation or storage of the water in
lined containment ponds after separation and removal of the hydrocarbon component
from the water. This article features three case studies, located near Wright,
Wyo., Cisco, Utah, and Midland, Texas. They were designed to evaporate or recycle
water in geomembrane-lined ponds. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate
that black high-density polyethylene (HDPE) liners increase evaporation over the
use of clay or unlined ponds, and the use of a white liner reduces evaporation relative
to a black liner.
The projects are complete and have been operational for several years, and they
continue to be expanded per their permits. The production and flowback water from
oil and gas wells at each site is trucked or piped to the sites for disposal or recycling.
The water is evaporated in ponds lined with black HDPE geomembranes as the top
layer by using a combination of factors that are favorable to the evaporative process,
including the natural characteristics of the site and arid climate. HDPE liner
was chosen to protect the surface and groundwaters of the area and to assist with
the evaporation of the water. The top layer liner was white at XRI Blue Buchanan
Pond in Midland, Texas, for the storage and to reduce the evaporation relative to
the black liner.
The projects are interesting in that each facility provides oil and gas production
companies in the area with a large commercial alternative to production water and
flowback disposal versus numerous small ponds or disposal via injection wells.
Case study basic conditions
Bluegrass Water, Wright, Wyo.
The project is in a semiarid region of northeastern Wyoming in Campbell County,
which is at 4,888 feet (1,490 m) above mean sea level. According to the U.S. Department
PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS
BLUEGRASS WATER
POND LINER
ORIGINAL OWNER
Bluegrass Water
LOCATION
Gillette, Wyo.
CONTRACTOR
Earthwork Solutions and Colorado
Lining International Inc.
DESIGN ENGINEER
Neil C. Nowak, P.E., SCS Engineers
GEOSYNTHETICS PRODUCT
40-mil (1-mm) and 60-mil
(1.5-mm) HDPE
GEOSYNTHETICS MANUFACTURER
AGRU America
Neil C. Nowak, P.E., is project director with
SCS Engineers in Greenwood Village, Colo.
All figures courtesy of the author.
www.GeosyntheticsMagazine.com
29
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Geosynthetics October/November 2021

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Geosynthetics October/November 2021 - 1
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