State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008WY44B
Title: Water Quality Criteria for Wyoming Livestock and Wildlife
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2011
Congressional District: 1
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Water Supply, Agriculture
Keywords: Water Quality, Animal Health, Livestock, Wildlife
Principal Investigators: Raisbeck, Merl ; Smith, Michael A. (Univ. Wyoming); Tate, Cynthia
Federal Funds: $ 52,561
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 43,277
Abstract: Water is an essential nutrient, arguably the most essential nutrient. Livestock and big game in the arid areas of the West usually have few choices when it comes to this essential nutrient; often there is no recourse but water produced by oil and gas development ("produced water") that may be of dubious quality. For example, much of the water produced by coalbed methane and conventional oil treater facilities in Wyoming is discharged into on and off-channel reservoirs, or directly to stream channels, thereby providing a significant, and sometimes critical, source of drinking water for livestock and wildlife. Produced water stored in reservoirs may exhibit water quality that changes over time due to evaporation of the water and subsequent concentration of potentially toxic elements. Water quality standards, that govern surface discharges for protection of stock and wildlife consumption (enumerated in "appendix H" of Wyoming DEQ regulations) governing surface discharges, are based upon science that is several decades old and have recently been challenged. That the challenges were themselves based upon dubious information is, in itself, a reflection of the generally sad state of current water quality recommendations by various public institutions. In many cases newer, presumably better, data are available. The data just haven't trickled down to a useful level. In other cases, mineral production has itself created questions (e.g. chronic toxicity of barium in water to ruminants) that never had to be answered before. It is important for members of the agricultural, industrial, and regulatory communities to be able to understand potential risks associated with using produced water from oil and gas facilities for livestock and wildlife watering. This project will provide a tool to facilitate that understanding.

We recently completed a literature review of several water quality elements important to Wyoming wildlife and livestock health for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (Raisbeck et al., 2007). Time constraints and the nature of the MOU limited this effort to elements (sulfate, TDS, etc.) currently on the DEQ's "front burner". We propose expanding the DEQ-funded effort to include other elements such as iron, uranium, chromium and cadmium which, while not of immediate concern in produced waters, are likely to be so in the future or are of interest because they occur naturally in Western waters and are extremely toxic. As a minor part of this proposal we will continue to update the previous document.

Progress/Completion Report, 2008, PDF
Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF
Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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