Yesterday the EPA stated that it would set standards for the discharge of shale gas wastewater by 2014 and coal bed methane wastewater by 2013. My first reaction is, why take so much time?
And my second reaction is: zero discharge to rivers and streams of drilling wastewater not fully treated should be the standard.
Sometimes technology improvements solve once difficult problems, and that is the case with drilling wastewater. The combination of recycling technology and treatment plants that can turn drilling wastewater into distilled water means that there is no justification to discharge untreated wastewater, including for total dissolved solids, into streams.
The important innovations in water treatment reflect the good work of the gas industry and the pressure to change created by the adoption of Pennsylvania's drilling wastewater rule in August 2010 that ended the decades old practice of discharging untreated for TDS drilling wastewater.
These technology innovations make easy this EPA standards setting. For more information on the EPA docket go to: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/304m/.