PADEP Wants Marcellus Wastewater Recycled

Pennsylvania has already issued three statewide general permits pursuant to 25 Pa. Code Chapter 287 –WMGR119, WMGR121, and WMGR123 — that authorize the treatment, processing, and beneficial reuse of frac water. Under the terms of these state-issued general permits, the treated frac water is returned to well drillers "for use as makeup water for further hydraulic fracturing and extraction of natural gas at drilling and production operations in the Marcellus Shale." As a result, taking frac water to a facility that holds one of these GPs results in a complete recycling of the water with zero discharge. That is clearly the direction the industry needs to go, and it is right for PADEP to be encouraging drillers to move in that direction ASAP. PADEP issued a press release on 4/19 calling on all gas drillers to stop sending wastewater from Marcellus Shale extraction wells to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and centralized waste treatment facilities that discharge into surface water. The press release was given front page coverage on many newspapers across the Commonwealth. Currently, there are fifteen such facilities accepting wastewater from Marcellus Shale wells. PADEP wants them to voluntarily agree to end that practice by May 19. PADEP's action is understandable and commendable. It is also a recognition that there are now better, more environmentally friendly options available to gas drillers, thanks to the Department.

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