Technologies and Costs for Coalbed Methane Produced Water Treatment

Numerous treatment technologies may be used for coalbed methane (CBM) produced water to achieve water qualities suitable for beneficial uses or to comply with permitted discharge requirements. The vast majority of CBM produced water treatment is completed for the purpose of disposal (see Chapters 4 and 5). Treatment is therefore generally performed either as a regulatory requirement of the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program to facilitate subsurface drip irrigation or for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)-issued permits for discharge to ephemeral and perennial drainages (see Chapter 3). If the water is treated prior to deep reinjection disposal the treatment is done for operational purposes or to address bacterial contamination (see Chapter 4).

The selection of CBM water treatment options varies as a function of several factors, including (1) produced water quantity and quality; (2) allowable quality of discharged water; (3) the water treatment technique or techniques that can be or are used; (4) transportation and/or storage needs for produced water prior to and after treatment, until disposal or use; and (5) the regulatory framework in place, including water rights and transfer, and allowable uses for treated water. These factors and the resulting effects on costs of treatment contribute to variation in the predominant water treatment (and management) strategies used throughout the western CBM basins. For example, within the Powder River Basin, relatively low salinity and other dissolved constituent concentrations, high water production rates, and perennial shortages of water have led to increased interest in the possibilities of treating the water for beneficial uses rather than disposal (see Chapters 2 and 4). However, most CBM produced water in the Powder River Basin is presently treated only for compliance with NPDES permit requirements for surface discharge. The same permitting and technological treatment issues apply to other western CBM basins, which have employed surface discharge for CBM produced water in a very limited way. Within the San Juan, Raton, Uinta, and Piceance basins, treatment of waters with high total dissolved solids (TDS) and high-salinity is limited primarily to operational purposes for disposal by

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