Watertown, NY Votes to Accept Shale Wastewater in City’s Water Treatment Plant

The City of Watertown, NY has voted to continue accepting wastewater (flowback) from hydraulic fracturing—but it’s not wastewater from the Marcellus Shale. This wastewater comes from a driller in Central New York—Gastem—who is drilling Utica Shale gas wells using hydraulic fracturing. Utica Shale is much deeper than Marcellus Shale and uses much less water to frack the well because it is vertical and not horizontal as it would be with a Marcellus well.

The city’s water treatment plant accepted 35,000 gallons of wastewater from Gastem last summer and discharged the treated water into the Black River. Gastem wants the city to treat an additional 80,000 gallons this summer.*

The volume of wastewater being treated in Watertown is miniscule compared to what is generated from a Marcellus well. But it is interesting that the city council has decided there is no hazard for the citizens of Watertown from treated frack fluids.

*CNYcentral.com (Apr 7) – Watertown to dispose of gas well fracking fluid

  • janice hancharick

    If Watertown will be making money treating Gastem’s wastewater, will the town also make money selling its effluent from the town’s treatment plant back to Gastem for drilling purposes? It takes water to drill. What would happen if this financial deal were put out to bid? Other drilling companies have the same needs and might be willing to pay more. Just a thought …

  • Jim

    And a good thought Janice. There are other municipalities doing just that. I’m aware of this one: http://marcellusdrilling.com/2010/03/kane-borough-sewer-authority-making-money-from-selling-effluent-to-marcellus-shale-driller/

    I suspect since Gastem’s operation right now is drilling in the Utica Shale, and that requires just a very small amount of water compared to Marcellus drilling, that they can get it locally with no problem. But once Marcellus drilling begins in NY, I suspect you’ll see many municipal wastewater treatment plants start to sell their effluent to drillers.

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