DEP needs to hear from you!

A Message from the RDA…
DEP needs to hear from you and your organization.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed new regulations for industrial wastewater that is high in total dissolved solids (TDS).

Natural gas drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale uses substances high in TDS for hydrofracturing (fracking) wells. The wastewater  that comes back out of wells (flowback fluid) after fracking is also high in TDS. The high levels of TDS in Marcellus wastewater is mostly in the form of salts and can be two to four times saltier than seawater.

Frac and flowback fluids can enter streams and rivers intentionally (legally by permit) or accidentally. The result can be a danger to health for all organisms – including humans. It can also make the water unfit for industrial use.

DEP needs the new regs to ensure that wastewater generated at Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites does not damage streams and rivers.

To read details about the proposed new regs, go to this link in the PA Bulletin:

DEP’s  Environmental Quality Board (EQB) held several public hearings on the proposed new regs held across the state, and some of the testimonies given by members of the public can be viewed at this site:

DEP needs to hear from all who care about our environment, our heath and the businesses which depend on clean water.

Please consider having your organization send a letter or email to the EQB commenting on the proposed new regs. Feel free to craft comments based on the testimonies of others and/or from the talking points noted at the end of this message.

If individual members of your organization are willing to write letters or send emails to the EQB, that would be very helpful.

Natural gas industry representatives are lobbying very hard, backed by substantial funding, to prevent any strengthening of the existing regs. In fact, lobbyists are asking for the regs to be even weaker than they are now.

Send written comments by postal- or e- mail on the proposed rule NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 10, 2010:

Environmental Quality Board
P.O. Box 8477
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477

Here are some talking points to make about DEP’s proposed changes to Chapter 95, Wastewater Treatment Requirements. These come courtesy of Clean Water Action.

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).  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 giving out more drilling permits until wastewater rules are in place.  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, and there is no oversight over the reuse of Marcellus wastewater.


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