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- Characterizing Storm Water Runoff from Natural Gas Well Sites in Denton County, Texas
- In order to better understand runoff characteristics from natural gas well sites in north central Texas, the City of Denton, with assistance through an EPA funded 104b3 Water Quality Cooperative Agreement, monitored storm water runoff from local natural gas well sites. Storm water runoff was found to contain high concentrations of total suspended solids (TSS). Observed TSS concentrations resulted in sediment loading rates that are similar to those observed from typical construction activities. Petroleum hydrocarbons, in contrast, were rarely detected in runoff samples. Heavy metals were detected in concentrations similar to those observed in typical urban runoff. However, the concentrations observed at the gas well sites were higher than those measured at nearby reference sites. Storm water runoff data collected from these sites were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the water erosion prediction project (WEPP) model for predicting runoff and sediment from these sites. Runoff and sediment predictions were adequate; however, rainfall simulation experiments were used to further characterize the portion of the site where drilling and extraction operations are performed, referred to as the "pad site." These experiments were used to develop specific pad site erosion parameters for the WEPP model. Finally, version 2 of the revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE 2.0) was used to evaluate the efficiency of best management practices (BMPs) for natural gas well sites. BMP efficiency ratings, which ranged from 52 to 93%, were also evaluated in the context of site management goals and implementation cost, demonstrating a practical approach for managing soil loss and understanding the importance of selecting appropriate site-specific BMPs.