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An Introduction to Produced Water and Flowback Amid Fracking

Fracking refers to the process of hydraulic fracturing, a natural gas extraction method. It involves injecting water and chemicals into rock formations at high pressure to create fractures. These fractures allow natural gas to escape from the rock and be collected.

The process of fracking also produces a large amount of wastewater, known as flowback. Produced water is another type of wastewater that is generated during the fracking process as well. Continue reading to learn more.

Defining Produced Water in Fracking

Produced water refers to the water brought to the surface along with the gas and oil during fracking. It is typically a mix of water that was used in the fracking process, groundwater, and any chemicals or contaminants that were present in the shale formation.

  • Salinity. The salinity of produced water can vary depending on the source but is typically much higher than seawater. This can pose a problem for disposal, as it can contaminate fresh water sources.

  • Chemicals. Produced water can also contain various chemicals and organic compounds. Unfortunately, such substances can end up being quite harmful to the environment if not properly managed.

  • Radioactive Concentration. Produced water can have high radioactivity, varying in its overall concentration. The presence of radioactive concentration can pose a health risk if not properly treated.

Defining Flowback in Fracking

Flowback is the kind of water that returns to the surface after fracking has been completed. It is typically a mix of the fracking fluid and any water that was absorbed by the shale during the fracking process.

While it can be reused, it typically contains all of the same harmful chemicals, making it difficult to recycle. Both flowback and produced water must be treated before they can be released into the environment. Different methods can be used to treat these waters, but the most common method is to inject them back into the ground.

Differentiating Produced Water and Flowback

Produced water is a term utilized in the oil and gas industry to refer to the water brought to the surface during fracking. This water was trapped underground with natural gas or oil, containing a variety of chemicals and pollutants. Meanwhile, flowback water is the water that returns to the surface, usually mixed with different fluids and water absorbed by shale.

Managing Produced Water and Flowback

In order to manage produced water and flowback, the water must first be treated. Various methods can be used to treat these waters, but the most common method is to inject them back into the ground. The injection is the process of injecting fluid into the ground in order to dispose of it. This is usually done through a well.

Testing Produced Water and Flowback

To ensure that produced water and flowback water are properly managed, it is important to test the water for a variety of different pollutants. Testing can be done on a regular basis or as needed. The results of these tests can determine what, if any, treatment is necessary.


In conclusion, produced water and flowback are contaminated results of fracking. Improper disposal of produced water and flowback can lead to environmental problems, but there are ways to mitigate these risks with proper testing and management.

Looking for flowback companies in Artesia, NM? Royal Services, LLC proudly offers flowback, well-testing, hot shot delivery, trucking, and equipment rental in the Permian Basin and beyond. Contact us today!

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