The Feasibility of Utilizing Produced Water to Improve Drinking Water Supply in Southeastern New Mexico

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.


NM Universities Produced Water Synthesis Project

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 January of 2020, NM WRRI initiated Year 1 of the NM Universities Produced Water Synthesis Project (NMUPWSP) with researchers at NM WRRI, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Tech, and The University of New Mexico (UNM). This collaboration is funded through state appropriations for a statewide water assessment. The project’s Year 1 goal was to synthesize information on produced water science and management. NMUPWSP has now completed Year 1 projects, resulting in the publication of the first two technical completion reports. The project is ongoing and has an overall goal of bringing together experts in the areas of treatment technology, geochemistry, seismology, hydrogeology, policy, data management and analysis, stakeholder engagement, and system science to provide an independent understanding of the broad implications of produced water management decisions on regional water budgets.

–(eNews Edition March 2021)

University EffortFull TitleTR #Publish DateAuthorsKeywords
New Mexico Water Resources Research InstituteDevelopment of a Multi-method Dynamic Simulation Model: Exploring Opportunities for Produced Water ReuseTR-391Mar-21Langarudi, S.P.;
Sabie, R.P.;
Bahaddin, B.;
Fernald, A.G.
Produced Water Management, Hybrid Modeling, Simulation, System Dynamics, Agent-based Modeling, Geospatial Analysis, Cross-scale Complexity
University of New MexicoAnalysis of the Relationship Between Water, Oil & Gas in New Mexico: Investigation of Past and Future TrendTR-390Feb-21Thomson, B.M.;
Chermak, J.M.
Hydrofracturing, Produced Water
New Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologyAccessing Produced Water Data in New Mexico: Improving and Updating the NM Produced Water Quality Database and Web Site TBDComing Soon!Cather, M.;
Gallegos, C.;
Chen, D.
New Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologyMonitoring of produced-waters-related seismicity and surface deformation in a three-dimensional geologic context in the Permian Basin, New MexicoTBDComing Soon!Rinehart, A.;
Litherland, M.;
Grigg, J.;
Grapenthin, R.;
New Mexico State UniversityCharacterization of Produced Water in the Permian Basin for Potential Beneficial UseTBDComing Soon!Xu, P.;
Zhang, Y.;
Carroll, K.C.
Utton Transboundary Resources Center (University of New Mexico)Analysis of the Relationship Between Current Regulatory and Legal Frameworks and the "Produced Water Act"TBDComing Soon!Russo Baca, S.;
Kupfer, A.;
McLain, S.

Social Dynamics Surrounding Produced Water in Lea & Eddy Counties

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.