State regulators have told the Bakersfield-based operator of an unlined, oilfield wastewater disposal pond in McKittrick it must bring the facility into compliance or shut it down.

The Central Valley Water Regional Quality Control Board's order against Valley Water Management Co. calls for a full analysis of the nature and extent of the impacts the 163-acre facility has on groundwater.

If the study does not prove the ponds are not polluting local groundwater, then Valley Management must either upgrade the facility or stop using it to discharge "produced water," the salty fluid that comes up from the ground along with oil.

The regional board says the facility is responsible for a plume of salty wastewater migrating to the northeast, where it threatens higher-quality groundwater supporting municipal and agricultural uses.

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