The State of Pennsylvania is currently the primary focus area for Marcellus Shale play. Most of the major natural gas companies are drilling in PA. The June 15, 2010 passage of the PA Chapter 95 Standard for discharge from wastewater treatment plants requires that discharge water must be of sufficient quality to meet the Drinking Water Standard. The companies that currently treat the wastewater are “grandfathered” at their current discharge permit levels. Any increase or change in these plants will trigger a requirement that these plants meet the new standard. The current treatment capacity in the Marcellus gas play is a fraction of the future capacity that will be needed as the industry ramps up and the production wastewater increases. The Pennsylvania Chapter 93 standard will force the phase out of the existing plants as the result of the requirement that “Chlorides at point of discharge not to exceed 250 parts per million (PPM)”. This will make it very difficult for these treatment facilities to dilute high TDS frac and production water to a level that meets standards prior to discharge. The limited capacity of deep well injection in the state increases the need for the use of crystallizers for the disposal of frac and production wastewater, especially in the north central section of the PA play that is reliant on Ohio as the primary area for deep well injection.
The State of New York is currently developing the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) that will provide definitive guidance to operators regarding the requirements that must be fulfilled before a drilling permit is issued. The estimated timeframe for development of the Marcellus shale in New York using high volume hydrofracturing is unknown at this time, though vertical drilling and fracturing with a maximum of 80,000 gallons is still allowable. When hydrofracturing is allowed, there will be a need for expanded wastewater treatment since there is limited capacity at best for deep well injection in New York State.