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Water 2012, 4(4), 944-958; doi:10.3390/w4040944

Soil Erosion and Surface Water Quality Impacts of Natural Gas Development in East Texas, USA

1
Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX 75962, USA
2
Texas A&M Forest Service, Lufkin, TX 75901, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 September 2012 / Revised: 10 November 2012 / Accepted: 12 November 2012 / Published: 20 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Watershed Management)
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Abstract

Due to greater demands for hydrocarbons and improvements in drilling technology, development of oil and natural gas in some regions of the United States has increased dramatically. A 1.4 ha natural gas well pad was constructed in an intermittent stream channel at the Alto Experimental Watersheds in East Texas, USA (F1), while another 1.1 ha well pad was offset about 15 m from a nearby intermittent stream (F2). V-notch weirs were constructed downstream of these well pads and stream sedimentation and water quality was measured. For the 2009 water year, about 11.76 cm, or almost 222% more runoff resulted from F1 than F2. Sediment yield was significantly greater at F1, with 13,972 kg ha−1 yr−1 versus 714 kg ha−1yr−1 at F2 on a per unit area disturbance basis for the 2009 water year. These losses were greater than was observed following forest clearcutting with best management practices (111–224 kg ha−1). Significantly greater nitrogen and phosphorus losses were measured at F1 than F2. While oil and gas development can degrade surface water quality, appropriate conservation practices like retaining streamside buffers can mitigate these impacts. View Full-Text
Keywords: water quality; surface runoff; oil and natural gas development; fracking; sedimentation; erosion; APEX model; best management practices; riparian buffers water quality; surface runoff; oil and natural gas development; fracking; sedimentation; erosion; APEX model; best management practices; riparian buffers
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

McBroom, M.; Thomas, T.; Zhang, Y. Soil Erosion and Surface Water Quality Impacts of Natural Gas Development in East Texas, USA. Water 2012, 4, 944-958.

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