MSC: Advancements in Technology Expanding Water Recycling Capabilities

MSC president cites need for commonsense TDS regulations

Canonsburg, Pa. – The responsible use, treatment and stewardship of the Commonwealth’s water resources are among the most important considerations involved in the development of clean-burning natural gas from shale. As a result, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) – whose members represent 100 percent of the shale gas producers throughout Pennsylvania – counts among the industry’s major accomplishments the tremendous increase in recycling of shale water. Today’s meeting at Reserved Environmental Services facility features one example of the many facilities the industry is using to achieve its high recycle rates, reducing the amount of water used at each Marcellus well and decreasing the overall discharge volumes.

“Protecting the Commonwealth’s rivers, streams and tributaries remains a top priority for the MSC. New technologies allow our members to recycle on average nearly 60 percent of the produced water used in this tightly regulated process. And because of these technologies – which continue to advance by the day – some MSC members are recycling nearly 100 percent of their water,” said Kathryn Klaber, president and executive director of the MSC.

New regulations sought by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) call for an “end of pipe”, 500 milligrams per liter cap on the concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the disposal of produced water. These proposed regulations, which are now pending before the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, could create a host of unintended consequences — as virtually no water treatment facilities across the Commonwealth could meet this threshold.

In fact, the Reserved Environmental Services facility is not currently capable of treating produced water at the discharge standards in the pending regulation, and will not have that capability before the effective date of the that regulation. For context, San Pellegrino Mineral Water’s TDS concentration is nearly twice the level of what these proposed regulations would require.

“As the safe and steady development of the Marcellus Shale continues to generate jobs, revenue and opportunity for the Commonwealth, the MSC stands ready, willing and eager – as always – to partner with DEP, the governor and the General Assembly to ensure this opportunity is seized upon in the safest, most beneficial manner for residents of the state and for our environment,” Klaber said. “Unfortunately, the new TDS rules represents a bump in that road and require more work to actually solve the TDS issues they are purported to address — but one we hope will be smoothed out along the path to an energy future to which we will continue to contribute, and of which we can be proud.”