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Study Results: Brackish Groundwater Comingling

February 2022 Winter Business Meeting Study Results: Brackish Groundwater Comingling Van Kelley, Vice President of Water Resources, INTERA

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A Presentation by
TAGD Regular Business
Meeting
Coauthors
TWDB Project Manager
Brackish Groundwater Comingling
TWDB Contract No. 2000012442
February 8, 2022
Van Kelley, INTERA
Steve Young
Clark Griffith
Daniel Lupton
James Pinkard
James Golab
Study Objectives
2
2
Work was funded by the TWDB – Contract No.
2000012442
Document a scientific assessment of brackish
groundwater comingling issues statewide and with a
focus on select aquifer/regions.
Inform future policy development regarding the
concept of comingling.
Outline of Presentation
3
3
 Review of Applicable Statutes and Codes
 Physical Framework for Comingling
 Assessment of Potential for Brackish Groundwater
Comingling in Select Aquifer/Regions
−Case Studies
 Statewide Assessment of Potential for Comingling
of Brackish Groundwater
 Future Considerations
Task 3: Review of Statutes and
Terminology
4
4
Task 3: Comingling
5
5
Only definition of comingling in the statutes and
codes reviewed was 16 TAC 76.10(16)
Comingling – the mixing, mingling, blending or
combining through the borehole casing or annulus
or the filter pack of water that differ in chemical
quality, which causes quality degradation of any
aquifer or zone
Task 3: Comingling
6
6
In this definition two conditions must be met for
comingling to occur:
−mixing occurs between waters of different chemical
quality and
−mixing causes degradation to an aquifer or a zone.
16 TAC 76 has no definition of degradation

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Study Results: Brackish Groundwater Comingling

  • 1. A Presentation by TAGD Regular Business Meeting Coauthors TWDB Project Manager Brackish Groundwater Comingling TWDB Contract No. 2000012442 February 8, 2022 Van Kelley, INTERA Steve Young Clark Griffith Daniel Lupton James Pinkard James Golab
  • 2. Study Objectives 2 2 Work was funded by the TWDB – Contract No. 2000012442 Document a scientific assessment of brackish groundwater comingling issues statewide and with a focus on select aquifer/regions. Inform future policy development regarding the concept of comingling.
  • 3. Outline of Presentation 3 3  Review of Applicable Statutes and Codes  Physical Framework for Comingling  Assessment of Potential for Brackish Groundwater Comingling in Select Aquifer/Regions −Case Studies  Statewide Assessment of Potential for Comingling of Brackish Groundwater  Future Considerations
  • 4. Task 3: Review of Statutes and Terminology 4 4
  • 5. Task 3: Comingling 5 5 Only definition of comingling in the statutes and codes reviewed was 16 TAC 76.10(16) Comingling – the mixing, mingling, blending or combining through the borehole casing or annulus or the filter pack of water that differ in chemical quality, which causes quality degradation of any aquifer or zone
  • 6. Task 3: Comingling 6 6 In this definition two conditions must be met for comingling to occur: −mixing occurs between waters of different chemical quality and −mixing causes degradation to an aquifer or a zone. 16 TAC 76 has no definition of degradation
  • 7. 16 TAC §76.10(16) Allows for Interpretation 7 7  There are two concepts in the definition of comingling that are subject to interpretation: Meaning of “differ in chemical quality” Meaning of “degradation”
  • 8. Task 3: Pollution 8 8 “Pollution” defined in 16 TAC 76.10 (42) −The alteration of the physical, thermal, chemical, or biological quality of, or the contamination of, any water that renders the water harmful, detrimental, or injurious to humans, animals, vegetation, or property, or to public health, safety, or welfare, or impairs the usefulness or the public enjoyment of the water for any or reasonable purpose. (same as 30 TAC 331.10(86) – UIC) This definition is consistent with much of the groundwater protection code in that the definition considers groundwater use and protection thereof
  • 9. Task 3: Takeaways 9 9 Our interpretation of 16 TAC 76 is that comingling intends to prevent contamination of useable water with water that is either a human or environmental health risk. Mixing of groundwaters that maintains use may not be considered degradation and therefore comingling − consistent with the definition of pollution (16 TAC 76.10(42)) Groundwater protection dependent upon end use is consistent with the Texas Groundwater Protection Committee Groundwater Classification System and non-degradation policy goal
  • 10. Factors Affecting the Potential for Comingling 10 10  Stratification of Water Quality − Caused by regional flow processes (TDS) − Caused by specific deposits (Arsenic)  Vertical Hydraulic Gradients −Naturally Occurring (artesian conditions) −Pumping Induced (depressurized zones) Well Completion − Screens intersecting undesirable (injurious) water Drilling and Well Operations − Well (period of non pumping) − Borehole (time left open)
  • 12. Zonal Flow in a Pumping Well: Conceptualization
  • 13. Ambient Flow in a Non-Pumping Well: Conceptualization
  • 14. Direct Information of Ambient Zonal Flow in a Well* 14 14 Vertical Flow within the borehole upward downward *Data collected by BESST Inc * Interpretation by INTERA Data from a well in Comal County* Courtesy of the Edwards Aquifer Authority
  • 15. Conceptual Takeaways 15 15 Comingling is mixing of groundwater within a well between zones such that one zone degrades another aquifer or zones −It does not apply to the mixing that occurs at the well head from pumping. Comingling could occur under non-pumping and pumping conditions. However, the potential is far greater under non-pumping conditions The data required to delineate the potential for comingling is rarely collected −Zonal water quality as well as zonal flow rates under non-pumping well conditions
  • 16. Task 5 - Assessment of Select Aquifer/Regions 16 16 Develop data driven assessments of potential for comingling in the following aquifers/regions: −Gulf Coast Aquifer System −Eagle Ford Region Aquifers −Trans Pecos Aquifers
  • 17. Task 5 – Assessment of Select Aquifer/Regions 17 17 Conditions that could cause brackish comingling −Presence of brackish groundwater −Multi-aquifer completions −Maximum head differences within multi-completed wells −Water quality (TDS) variability that could result in comingling Also looked at select well case studies
  • 18. Task 5 – Eagle Ford 18 18 Task 5 – Eagle Ford Assessment shows that that there are many wells completed in more than one aquifer (31 % of wells) Multi-Aquifer Completed Wells
  • 19. Task 5 – Gulf Coast 19 19 Assessment shows that that there are 2,214 wells completed in more than one aquifer (3.4 %) Multi-Aquifer Completed Wells
  • 20. Task 5 – Gulf Coast 20 20 Assessment shows that vertical head differences (gradients) for aquifers co- completed can be significant (average 43.6 ft ranging 390 feet) Maximum Head Difference in Multi-Aquifer Completed Wells
  • 21. Task 5 – Gulf Coast 21 21 Significant number of wells with screens straddling the 1,000 mg/L TDS boundary Water quality based upon geophysical log interpretation (Young and others (2016)) Wells Completed Across the 1,000 ppm TDS Boundary
  • 22. Zonal Sampling - Gulf Coast Aquifer - Pumping 22 22 Well head TDS = 840 mg/L Interval range = 419 to 1,393 mg/L Courtesy of the BESST, Inc
  • 23. Zonal Sampling - Gulf Coast Aquifer – Non-Pumping 23 23 Pump interval TDS = 419 mg/L
  • 24. Zonal Sampling – Eagle Ford 24 24 Courtesy of the Evergreen UWCD
  • 25. Task 5 – Assessment of Select Aquifer/Regions 25 25 Assessment shows that all three aquifer/regions have potential for comingling to occur The Gulf Coast Aquifer and the Eagle Ford Regions have the highest potential for comingling of the three focus areas The case studies presented: −Provide well-specific evidence of potential comingling and the mechanisms that may cause comingling −Provide insight into the types of detailed characterization data that requires collection to evaluate comingling
  • 26. Task 4 – Statewide Ranking of Comingling Potential 26 26 Desktop study of statewide ranking of each aquifer for potential for comingling The method provides a hierarchical ranking of aquifer Ten aquifers were ranked to have a high potential The highest-ranking are: −multi-aquifer/formation aquifers with a −high percent of cross- aquifer/formation completions
  • 27. Future Considerations 27 27  Regarding brackish groundwater production zones defined by the TWDB, we recommend that the TWDB, GCDs and other stakeholders define minimum standards regarding the assessment of the potential for comingling in brackish aquifer settings.  We recommend that the Groundwater Protection Committee (which includes WWD/PI) provide some guidance with regards to application of the comingling statute in brackish aquifer settings
  • 28. Questions / Input 28 Van Kelley vkelley@intera.com 512-569-0689