In 2016, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute teamed up with communities, researchers, agencies, and industry to complete a project focused on the potential reuse of produced water. The purpose of this Project was for the NM WRRI to provide public water systems and communities in Lea and Eddy counties information that could potentially improve the sustainability of water supplies by understanding the available volumes of water produced during oil and gas extraction, commonly referred to as produced water, as a source of water to offset use of freshwater. In locations such as southeastern New Mexico, water users are heavily dependent on aquifers with low to insignificant recharge rates. In these locations, expanding the use of produced water offers the possibility of reducing demand for freshwater and reducing aquifer depletion rates, thereby improving water supply sustainability and protection of potable water sources.
Produced water is a multifaceted phenomenon with complex hydrologic, social, economic, and environmental implications for human-natural systems. To better understand such implications, we need to equip ourselves with sophisticated analytical and computational tools that take such complexities into account. In this project, we will explore the possibility and usefulness of developing a hybrid, multi-method dynamic simulation modeling approach that considers both aggregate feedback and heterogeneous nature of the produced water problem. We will then identify potential questions that could be addressed exclusively by the hybrid method.
In the past few years, numerous state and national initiatives have started to focus on produced water as an alternative source for agricultural, industrial, or other purposes. The majority of research in this field concentrates on optimization of produced water treatment and related technologies. However, to fully understand the system, besides the cost-effective analysis, we would need to study the short- and long-term social impacts of such phenomenon on the individuals, and the society. In this proposal, we try to create an integrated System Dynamics simulation that reflects the socio-economical mechanisms in Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico. This simulation will be added to the hybrid model being created in parallel to this research.