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Impacts from Coal Bed Methane Produced Water on Aquatic Ecosystems

Coal Bed methane (CBM) development is occurring at a rapid pace in portions of the western US. Currently, there is a moratorium on development of CBM in Montana pending completion of an environmental impact statement (EIS). It is likely that pressures to develop this resource will grow with recent increases in energy costs. To date, most of the monitoring and assessment of impacts from CBM development has been restricted to analyses of physicochemical properties of discharged water. Studies of the impact of CBM on biota or biological integrity have not been conducted. This project focused on identifying impacts to the aquatic ecosystem (flora and fauna) related to the discharge of CBM produced water into a stream system. The objective was to identify an aquatic ecosystem baseline by examining the flora and faunal communities in streams within the CBM development area of southeast Montana. Using the baseline, we identified potential changes in the floral and faunal communities that are exposed to CBM-produced water.


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