Operators and drillers can expect closer scrutiny and tighter water regs and thus higher costs in the eight–state Ohio River Valley region.
A recent change to Pennsylvania’s water discharge regulations has set the stage for increased disposal costs for drillers in that state and in the wider Ohio River Valley. Water quality in that watershed is governed by ORSANCO, an interstate commission representing Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and the federal government. Pennsylvania’s current total dissolved solids (TDS) standard is 2,000 milligrams/liter for industrial wastewater. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has adopted a new rule that slashes the TDS standard to 500 mg/l for drilling wastewater and grandfathers in existing wastewater sources under the old standard. The state legislature is reviewing the new rule pending final approval.
West Virginia has proposed a 500 mg/l rule for all industrial water discharges, and ORSANCO is considering the same for the entire region. Now drillers face added costs to control discharges, mainly chlorides and sulfates, from pit water, frac water, and drilling fluids.