The Marcellus Shale revolution has brought new jobs, cheaper energy and cleaner power to our area, but hydraulic fracturing technology can take a heavy toll on local water supplies.
And it’s not just a drop in the bucket – drilling and fracturing one horizontal shale gas well can use up to 5 million gallons of water.
According to the Susquehanna River Commission, approximately 65 percent of the water used for Marcellus Shale drilling is drawn from rivers, creeks and lakes in Pennsylvania. Drilling companies purchase the remaining 35 percent from local communities.
As technology evolves, operators should seek alternative water sources and employ advanced treatment methodologies to minimize hydraulic fracturing’s impact on potable water.
Brackish groundwater, acid mine drainage and power plant cooling water are just a few options that remove fresh water from the equation entirely.
Regardless of the source, advanced recycling methods can give a second life to produced water, which is trapped underground and comes to the surface during drilling, and flowback water, which consists of recovered fracturing fluids.
By securing water sources that don’t compromise community water needs, we can continue to enjoy the benefits of the shale boom without leaving Pennsylvania parched.
Sharon, Mercer County
(The writer is president of Winner Water Services, a Sharon-based company that provides ecologically-friendly source water for hydraulic fracturing at Sykesville, Jefferson County, and Sarver, Butler County.)