Enjoy, Explore, and Protect the Planet Sierra Club Allegheny Group, Pennsylvania Chapter

Rivers and Water

EQB Considers Regs for Marcellus WasteWater

The Environmental Quality Board proposes in part, “the establishment of new effluent standards for new sources of wastewaters containing high Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) concentrations.” If approved, this measure will help clean up rivers that are severely impacted by mine and drilling operations, rivers such as the Monongahela.


1.  We need safe drinking water!  DEP’s proposal will go a long way towards ensuring that our drinking water supplies will not have unsafe levels of total dissolved solids (TDS).  The Monongahela River, Youghigeny River,  Conemaugh River, West Branch of the Susquehanna River already have high levels of total dissolved solids.   DEP should not weaken their proposed discharge standard for TDS.

2.  We need these regulations to be in place as soon as possible to protect our rivers and drinking water.  DEP should stop issuing more drilling permits until wastewater rules are in place and the wastewater is treated. At present, most of the wastwater produced at Marcellus gas well is discharge into our stream without treatment to remove chlorides, sulfates, and heavy metals.  DEP should also stop allowing existing or proposed wastewater plants to pollute our rivers unless they follow these new rules.

3.  DEP should add discharge standards for those contaminants that are frequently found in Marcellus Shale gas drilling wastewater.  These would include bromides, arsenic, benzene, radium, magnesium, and possibly others.  Many of these contaminants are very difficult for drinking water systems to remove.

4.  DEP needs to ensure that all aspects of the generation of Marcellus wastewater are regulated.  Currently there are no requirements to track wastewater from drilling sites to treatment plants. There should be a “Record of Responsibility”, a paper trail of the quantity of frackwater being transported and signed receipts for each delivery. In addition, there should be strict oversight over the reuse of Marcellus wastewater.

  Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet."® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club.