Frack water

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use in hydraulic fracturing could have two environmental advantages: It could reduce the amount of higher-quality water withdrawn from rivers and streams for use in drilling and the treating the water for use in drilling could reduce the amount of mine water flowing elsewhere.

4 thoughts on “Frack water

  1. I’ve been worried about the amount of wastewater for a LONG time, our municipal water plants cannot handle/process that much contaminated water NOR can they actually filter out all the toxic chemicals…it’s a horrible, dirty and dangerous way to get gas out of the ground and has left me feeling even more depressed than usual when I see how deeply the gas company interests run and how much influence/control they have over our supposed regulators. My family has a farm upstate with wells on it, and what I hear is not good, not at all good…

  2. Kurt, riveting image.

    My immediate question was how big the sphere for fresh water would be…barely visible? If that sphere has all the water in the world, from oceans to fresh water streams to lakes, and from aquifers, how much of that small blue sphere would be drinkable?

    My next question is how can our modern, purportedly educated leaders allow this indiscriminate messing around with our scarcest resource, the one absolutely required for life on this planet?

  3. As soon as the Republicans buy (privatize) all of the municipal water districts across the U.S., how much water is used by whom and for what purpose will no longer be open for public debate. The 1% will own it. You’ll buy it at the price they charge you for it. And you’ll shut your mouth or go without. Don’t think so? If you support the Capitalist 1% in their free market endeavors it will be only a matter of time before it happens.

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