The natural gas industry has been using the process of hydraulic fracturing in vertical wells for decades.
It has only been in the past few years, however, that technology has enabled the industry to drill horizontally into once unattainable shale formations such as the Barnett Shale, Fayette Shale and Marcellus Shale formations, which requires larger volumes of hydraulic fracturing water.
Hydraulic fracturing is the process of using 99% water, a mixture of lubricating agents/chemicals and propping agents such as sand to fracture the shale in order to release the natural gas. A percentage of this hydraulic fracturing water returns back to the surface with the gas over the life of the well.
This flowback water not only contains the initial chemical makeup of what was pumped into the ground, but it also combines or dissolves some of the naturally occurring minerals that are found in the formation and brings this combination of chemicals and minerals back up to the surface. The makeup of this mixture varies from well to well, region to region, and even company to company since each natural gas company uses its own patented technology for fracturing of wells.
Prior to 2011, the practice in PA was to treat these fluids by removing the suspended solids, adjusting pH levels, removing a portion of the dissolved metals, and then discharging the resulting brine solution into the watershed.
Currently Hydro Recovery treats frac water for reuse thereby resulting in zero liquid discharge into Pennsylvania watersheds. The unique process of recycling the high total dissolved solids fluids (HTDSF) into a product for reuse in the hydraulic fracturing process eliminates the need for the disposal of frac water and displaces some of the need of fresh water.
Once the manufactured Hydraulic Stimulation Fluid (HSF™) leaves the Hydro Recovery facility, arrives at the well site, and is then put down the well hole it will "not be considered a waste" by the DEP and it will be considered a product for PA regulatory purposes. Hydro's treatment process creates a beneficial use – both for the natural gas industry and the environment – by reducing the amount of fresh water the industry needs in fracturing wells.
Facilities are constructed to ensure the protection of the environment and local properties by including a fence around the perimeter of the facility; having spill containment around all tanks, piping and truck loading/unloading areas to ensure no spills can reach the groundwater; and security cameras for monitoring purposes.