On April 19, 2011, Pennsylvania DEP called on all Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operators to cease by May 19 delivering wastewater to those centralized treatment facilities that were grandfathered from the application of last year’s Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) regulations. The agency based its decision on what it described as more definitive scientific data, improved technology and increased voluntary wastewater recycling by industry. The previous administration in Pennsylvania had chosen to allow facilities that had historically accepted drilling wastewater to continue to accept it, as long as they did not increase their input load of wastewater. DEP cited recent surface water sampling as having found elevated levels of bromide in streams in Western Pennsylvania in support of its change in position.
Increasingly Pennsylvania is moving in the direction of West Virginia which is strongly discouraging stream discharges of oil and gas wastewater. In part this effort is in furtherance of USEPA's zero discharge effluent guideline adopted in the 1970s and in part in furtherance of a new round of water quality standards.
These and related developments will focus additional attention on the development reuse/recycle and UIC options for the management of wastewater from these operations.