John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

In situ and laboratory toxicity of coalbed natural gas produced waters with elevated sodium bicarbonate

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Some tributaries in the Powder River Structural Basin, USA, were historically ephemeral, but now contain water year round as a result of discharge of coalbed natural gas (CBNG)‐produced waters. This presented the opportunity to study field sites with 100% effluent water with elevated concentrations of sodium bicarbonate. In situ experiments, static renewal experiments performed simultaneously with in situ experiments, and static renewal experiments performed with site water in the laboratory demonstrated that CBNG‐produced water reduces survival of fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) and pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus). Age affected survival of fathead minnow, where fish 2 d posthatch (dph) were more sensitive than 6 dph fish, but pallid sturgeon survival was adversely affected at both 4 and 6 dph. This may have implications for acute assays that allow for the use of fish up to 14 dph. The survival of early lifestage fish is reduced significantly in the field when concentrations of NaHCO3 rise to more than 1500 mg/L (also expressed as >1245 mg HCO3−/L). Treatment with the Higgin's Loop technology and dilution of untreated water increased survival in the laboratory. The mixing zones of the 3 outfalls studied ranged from approximately 800 m to 1200 m below the confluence. These experiments addressed the acute toxicity of effluent waters but did not address issues related to the volumes of water that may be added to the watershed. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;9999:1–8. © 2014 SETAC

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