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Water: Permitting (NPDES)

Treatment and Disposal of Wastewater from Shale Gas Extraction

To assist State and Federal permitting authorities in addressing treatment and disposal of wastewater from shale gas extraction, EPA issued a March 17, 2011 memo from James Hanlon, Director of EPA's Office of Wastewater Management to the EPA Regions titled, "Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale under the NPDES Program Frequently Asked Questions (1 pg, 312K, About PDF)", and shale gas extraction FAQs (18 pp, 648K, About PDF). Shale gas extraction produces large volumes of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in addition to relatively small volumes of produced water from the formation. That wastewater can contain high concentrations of dissolved solids (salts), naturally occurring radionuclides, and metals, as well as other pollutants used in drilling and completion of wells.

The FAQs discuss the wastewater issues and pollutants associated with shale gas extraction and how they can be addressed under existing regulations. Existing regulations cover oil and gas extraction, centralized waste treatment, acceptance and notification requirements for publicly owned treatment works, pretreatment, and stormwater. The FAQs should assist EPA Regional offices and States in that effort as they work with the regulated community to address shale gas extraction wastewater.

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