Successful water treatment begins at Marcellus Shale

November 2011, Vol. 66 No. 11

A Pennsylvania regulation became law in August that will help prevent the discharge of incompletely treated frac water from natural gas drilling into area rivers. Altela Inc., a water treatment company based in Albuquerque, NM, has begun implementation of the solution to the frac water problem at a plant in Williamsport by treating 100,000 gallons a day of frac water to better than drinking water standards.

This successfully treated water can be used again for hydrofracking or put into rivers with no harmful effects to people or wildlife.

Under the new regulation, natural gas drilling companies will no longer be permitted to take hydrofracking, or 'frac' wastewater to facilities throughout Pennsylvania that failed to properly remove salt and other contaminates before releasing the water into rivers. The regulation comes after authorities discovered high levels of bromide, other harmful chemicals and total dissolved solids (TDS) in river water sampling. The new Altela technology in Williamsport, PA, at Clean Streams LLC, successfully removes salts and contaminants to safe standards, according to state and federal officials.

Thousands of jobs are at risk if natural gas companies in Pennsylvania cannot meet regulations. A study by Penn State estimated more than 215,000 jobs with an average salary of $79,184 would be created by natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania by 2015, if the industry can thrive.

AltelaRain 600, Altela's water treatment system, uses 90 percent less energy than traditional water treatment systems and is proven to treat frac thoroughly and completely. Altela demonstrations last year organized by the National Energy Technology Laboratory at the U.S. Dept. of Energy turned frac water into drinking water with no health risks and the PA DEP has determined that Altela's technology can meet or exceed state standards.