Friday, January 7, 2011

Pennsylvania Township to sell sewage wastewater for fracking - Water Reuse Using degraded water for hydrofracking

Not My Work - My comments below

January 7, 2011 - By DAVID THOMPSON

"HUGHESVILLE - On Dec. 16, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission did something it has never done before
It approved an application to sell treated municipal wastewater for drilling operations by the natural gas industry.
The commission's approval was given to the Hughesville Wolf Authority, which operates a sewage treatment facility that serves the Borough of Hughesville, Wolf Township and part of Muncy Creek Township.

The approval allows the authority to sell to gas drilling companies up to 249,000 gallons of treated municipal wastewater per day, according to authority engineer Charles W. Amer III, of Montoursville-based engineering firm McTish, Kunkel and Associates.
That accounts for slightly more than 60 percent of the treated effluent the authority's treatment plant discharges into Muncy Creek on a daily basis, Amer said.

Preparing a withdrawal site on the treatment plant property will cost between $400,000 and $500,000, Amer said. A 3/4-acre pad, segregated from the rest of the facility by a fence and connected by a separate access road, will be built, and two 21,000 gallon storage tanks, meters and other technology installed.
Treated wastewater contained in a chlorine contact tank - typically the final stop before entering a pipe that leads to the creek - will be pumped into the storage tanks. Tanker trucks will enter the facility by the access road, pull up to one of two fill stations and fill their tanks, Amer said.
Even with the set-up costs, selling treated wastewater has the potential to be lucrative for the authority, Amer said.
At $10 per 1,000 gallons - the mid-range point of what is being paid by gas companies for water used for hydrofracturing - the authority could bring in more than $900,000 a year if it sells all of the water it is permitted to sell, he said.
If the authority only sells two-thirds of the permitted amount at $8 per 1,000 gallons, it still will bring in about $485,000 a year, he said.

Amer said gas companies are interested in buying the treated water.
"We have non-binding commitments that well exceed the 249,000 gallons per day," he said. "We have six or eight companies that submitted letters showing interest in (buying) wastewater. Some submitted actual per gallon needs."Authority member William Senseman said customers will reap the benefits of the sale.
"We saw this as a win-win. It allows us to raise revenue to keep our rates down while maintaining the plant and keeping it compliant (with state and federal regulations)," Senseman said.Authority Chairman Daniel Thomas agreed.

"The community is going to benefit from this," Thomas said. According to Thomas, the treatment plant is relatively new and still has outstanding debt incurred from when it was built. Revenue from selling water will allow the debt to be paid off and keep user rates down.
That is on top of the fact that the authority already is efficiently run, he said.
"We're probably the only sewer authority that has actually dropped its rates in the last five years," he said.
Thomas said plans to sell the wastewater included a lot of thought into how local residents will be impacted by the potential truck traffic the facility could attract.
"Our number one concern is the disruption caused by excessive truck traffic," Thomas said. "We want to keep it at a minimum."
"We figured if we spread it out over a 24-hour period, it will only equal two trucks per hour on a maximum withdrawal day of 249,000 gallons," he said.
Senseman said that unlike some surface withdrawal points where water hauling trucks have unlimited access, the authority has total control over access to the facility and can make changes to reduce local impacts caused by the operation. Amer said the water gas companies will be buying from the authority will be very high quality.
"This plant has a very high level of treatment compared to a lot of other treatment plants," Amer said, adding treatment plant effluent is far below pollution limits set by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
"We'll be providing the industry with pretty clean water," he said. "Compared to other treatment plants' effluent, it's a higher quality of water.
Wastewater sold to the gas industry is less wastewater discharged into Muncy Creek, Thomas said.
Thomas credited the authority board, which also includes Richard Marsh, Richard Mausteller, Stephen Ryder, Jerry Kilgus and Robert Kolbrich, with putting their full support behind the initiative.
Still, there were challenges to receiving SRBC approval, primarily because the authority was pioneering new territory as far as supplying water for the gas industry. It was unclear what type of approval was needed to sell treated wastewater, Amer said."It was the first time they ever dealt with it," Thomas said.The commission is the agency that regulates water quantity issues in the river basin. It must give its approval for the consumptive use of water - defined as any use in which the water is not returned to its source - once the amount withdrawn from a source exceeds a certain threshold.
The threshold typically is 100,000 gallons of water per day. However, for the gas industry, no such threshold exists. SRBC approval is required for the withdrawal of a single drop of water for industry use."
Great Article - the source of the article is

1. Water Reuse has been done - This was proposed many years ago for other facilities to handle the need for a partially degraded water.
2. One item that should be checked is the water budget - if possible the approach should include funding for other water conservation measures and enhanced recharge of treated water in other areas.
3. The removal of the water from the plant should not result in a change in the NPDES permit or an increase in the Capacity.
4. Truck traffic will be high - maybe they could consider funding a pumping station to a site - this would be a traffic study.
5. Good work - thinking out of the box.
6. Funds should help to improve operations of the facility, decrease citizen cost, fund water quality and water conservation and promote other water reuse applications (industry, irrigation, etc).
7. How about looking at installing stormwater retention basins and using this as a resource for fracking?

Just my thoughts

Brian Oram, PG
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.


  1. Truck traffic would be a problem no matter where the tankers would fill up. If this proves to be workable, maybe making use of this water source should be made part of the permitting process, where its use would be financially practical.

  2. Yes - I would hope the local agency would require a traffic study, but it would be very cost effective to set up a more remote site. Also, water reuse is becoming more common, I am am working on water reuse projects that are up to 1 million gallons per day. At this point, the water has been reused for groundwater recharge, enhanced forest growth, irrigation water, industrial cooling water, and "third pipes" in industrial and commercial applicaitons.