I had no idea it took that much water to frack a single well:
WILKES-BARRE — Pennsylvania has a vast supply of contaminated water flowing daily from its abandoned mine works; 300 million gallons a day by the state’s estimate.
The natural gas industry needs vast quantities of water to unlock gas from the Marcellus Shale; between 2 million and 10 million gallons to stimulate a well a single time.
Using the state’s latest natural resource boom to clean up the legacy of the last one seems like a natural pairing, and it’s one state and environmental regulators as well as the natural gas drilling industry are taking seriously.
At the suggestion of the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission last year, the state Department of Environmental Protection is in the process of establishing an approval process for the use of acid mine drainage in hydraulic fracturing.
It is tailoring that process to address concerns that could discourage the industry from using mine water.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which permits drillers to withdraw water from within the Susquehanna’s watershed, began encouraging drillers to use acid mine drainage when fracturing by reducing or eliminating permit fees for “lesser-quality waters,” including water contaminated by mining and public wastewater.
It has since gone a step further in requiring companies that apply to withdraw fresh water from sources close to mine water to explain as part of their applications why they are unwilling to use the mine water instead.
“They’re going to have to justify to us why they’re not using that impaired water,” commission spokeswoman Susan Obleski said.
Acid mine drainage refers to the outpouring of water that has run its course through mine workings, where it has picked up minerals — often sulfides — and has often acquired an acidic pH.
Its use in hydraulic fracturing could have two environmental advantages: It could reduce the amount of higher-quality water withdrawn from rivers and streams for use in drilling and the treating the water for use in drilling could reduce the amount of mine water flowing elsewhere.