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Wheels set in motion with regulations aimed at protecting waterways from drilling wastewater


Last week the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) approved new regulations to help protect PA waterway from the result of natural gas drilling activity.  These regulations are directed at preventing Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) from polluting drinking water, damaging industrial equipment and endangering aquatic life.  The new regulations state that new industrial facility wastewater discharge is limited to concentrations of 2,000 milligrams per liter and the wastewater discharge from drilling activity cannot exceed 500 milligrams per liter.  Why the tougher standards on the drilling industry you might ask?  Well according to the PA Department of Environmental Protection, drilling wastewater is heavily polluted and drillers have the option to reuse and recycle or inject it back in to the ground, under ground water supply when approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There have been instances where high TDS levels in western Pennsylvania caused residents to complain of foul-smelling water and damage to laundry and dishes.  Industrial companies have also complained of damaged equipments due to polluted river water and in 2009 high TDS levels created a toxic algae bloom that killed all aquatic life in a 30-mile stretch of creek in Green Co., PA.

Other approved regulations include enhanced erosion, sediment control and storm water runoff rules, mandatory requirements for establishing buffers to protect streamside and riverside in high value water sheds, and enhancing agricultural stormwater management provisions.

The approved TDS regulations will now be sent to the Environmental Resources and Energy committees in the PA House and Senate and to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission for review for 30-days.

To learn more visit the Marcellus Shale Regulatory, Environmental Info folder in the Unconventional Updates in DI’s DNA.

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Anne Leonard

In January 2015, Anne Leonard headed the team that launched the latest addition to DrillingInfo’s international publications, International Scout Frontier North America which covers the US Gulf of Mexico as well as Maritime and Arctic Canada. She has been reporting on exploration and production for more than 30 years. She began her career in Denver covering the Rocky Mountain Region, and has spent the last 10 years covering the international arena, with a particular focus on Latin America, Africa, Western Europe and the Far East. Anne received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Nebraska.