Coalbed Methane Produced Water Management and Beneficial Uses

Coalbed methane (CBM) produced water can be managed as a waste product or put to beneficial use, depending on water quality and quantity, legal and regulatory issues, permitting constraints for discharge and use, the local environment and climate, and economic considerations. This chapter addresses the management of CBM produced water, including options for beneficial use, and provides context for Chapter 5, which addresses effects of CBM produced water on the environment. Chapter 6 reviews specific water treatment options and associated costs for managing CBM produced water.


CBM produced water management includes (1) disposal, storage, or treatment as a waste product of methane recovery or (2) application in one of many beneficial use opportunities, with or without treatment. Several factors, alone or in combination, determine whether CBM produced water is disposed of, stored, treated, and/or put to beneficial use:

• Produced water quality;

• Produced water volumes;

• Reliability of assurances of sustained supply over time;

• Proximity of location of produced water in sufficient quantities for beneficial use (such as irrigation) to suitable land parcels;

• Degree of compatibility between produced water quality and potential receiving landscapes, irrigable land parcels, and receiving water bodies;

• Availability of suitable storage and disposal sites;

• Legal or regulatory factors concerning the discharge, management, and use of CBM produced water;

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