Could New Waste Water Disposal Rules be Coming in Texas?

Eagle Ford Disposal Well Map
Eagle Ford Disposal Well Map

New waste water disposal rules could soon impact oil and gas development in Texas.

After a rash of low-magnitude earthquakes linked to injection/waste water disposal wells across the state, new rules could soon be on the table soon for industry to dispose of its drilling waste water. According to The Houston Chronicle, the proposed rules would require companies to submit more information about the seismic history of the drill site and the underground pressure the water will cause. The rules also give the Railroad Commission (RRC) more power to modify permits and requests.

Since the drilling boom began in the Eagle Ford Shale, scientists have recorded a steady up-tick in earthquakes in South Texas. Most scientific findings link injection wells, and not fracking to the earthquakes; however, injection wells are necessary to the fracking process. Fracking of just one Eagle Ford well uses approximately 4.2 million gallons of water, and the flowback or produced water needs to be disposed of in an injection well. In addition to Eagle Ford quakes, the more highly publicized North Texas' quakes, stemming from development of the Barnett Shale, have also been linked to injection wells.

Read more: Eagle Ford Quakes Linked to Disposal and Injection Wells

Law makers in Austin on a seismic activity subcommittee heard testimony on new waste water disposal rules at the end of August. According to the Chronicle, the subcommittee will report their findings to the House Committee on Energy Resources. The committee will take comment on the proposed rules through Sept. 29th.