Frac Sand Facilities and Their Potential Effects on the Groundwater Resources of the Monahans-Mescalero Sand Ecosystem, Permian Basin, Texas
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential effects of frac sand facilities on groundwater resources in the Monahans-Mescalero Sand Ecosystem area, home to the Dunes Sagebrush lizard (Zdunczyk 2018), a species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. I did this by (1) describing the physiography, hydrogeology, groundwater management, and frac sand production in the area; (2) estimating water usage; and (3) modeling potential effects that groundwater production may have—shortterm and long-term—on water levels in the area.
Regulation of groundwater use and water-level and aquifer property information in the area is limited; therefore, information on water use and its effects are limited, restricting my ability to assess and project impacts. Furthermore, the development of frac sand facilities in the area is a rapidly changing with new production expected. Nonetheless, this analysis can be used to provide a glimpse into what is currently happening in the area concerning facility development and water resources and what that might mean for water levels in the area.
I’ve used operator and facility names based on the names used to register frac sand facilities with the state. The frac sand business is undergoing consolidation and change, so there have been some acquisitions since facilities have been registered (and those acquisitions continue). I’ve noted the acquisitions I’m aware of in the footnotes of Table 5.1.