Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has asked Marcellus Shale drillers not to send fracking wastewater to 15 publicly-owned water treatment plants, most in Western Pennsylvania, because they are biological systems not equipped to remove inorganic compounds, such as bromides, that may create health hazards when combined with chlorine.
Most private treatment plants capable of removing inorganic matter are in central PA, in the Susquehanna and Delaware river basins, where water usage is rigidly controlled and even prohibited during low flow periods, according to Hugh Archer, President of Mavickar Environmental Consultants. Drillers in Western PA, where water is more abundant, have been able to just dilute much of their frack water and re-use it. Archer says there may not be enough private treatment plants up and running right now to deal with an increased volume.
Archer expects the water treatment industry to move toward wellhead treatment to reduce transportation costs. He says a process demonstrated in Fayette County a year ago by Integrated Water Technologies truly recycled fracking water into a clean water distillate and three commercial salt products.