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Brine Contamination to Prairie Potholes from Energy Development in the Williston Basin

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Williston Basin Study Area

Background:
In the United States, the Williston Basin occupies 143,000 square miles and includes portions of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  Superimposed over this landscape is the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) which includes critical wetland and grassland habitats of importance to breeding, nesting, and migrating waterfowl, and wetland and grassland birds.  A potential impact of oil field activities on these important habitats is brine contamination from co-produced waters that leach from oil well reserve pits, injection wells, and transport lines.  Previous studies have identified contamination of wetlands and groundwater resources, including drinking water aquifers, located on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), tribal, and public lands, and numerous groups have expressed concern over the potential risk of contamination.  Currently, the extent of such contamination across the Williston Basin is unknown, and there is a need for scientific-based information to assess this threat.

 

STEPPE in the News!

 

Click here to view animation demonstrating the rapid energy development footprint in the Williston Basin, specifically Dunn County, ND.

 

Want to know about other USGS projects in the Williston Basin?

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