WVSA sees profit in treating drill water

By Rory Sweeneyrsweeney@timesleader.com
Staff Writer

The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority is looking to join the ranks of regional sewer authorities profiting from natural gas drilling.

Following Williamsport and Sunbury, where authorities are already treating drilling wastewater, the WVSA is requesting proposals to build a closed-loop pretreatment plant on its land in Hanover Township.

The plant would accept wastewater only within certain pollution parameters, and the treated water would need to be reused for other gas drilling.

Proposals are due by March 29, and the authority hopes to have the plant built within a year, pending necessary permitting.

“I think this thing can get built in seven, eight, nine months or quicker, so again, when will it be permitted?” said John Minora, president of PA NE Aqua Resources, which is consulting on the project.

The plant would be able to treat 800 gallons a minute with a daily flow of 1 million gallons, plus storage and a filling station. The system could utilize any of several techniques that could include separation and disposal of waste in a landfill, evaporation and land application of the minerals or treatment and dilution, Minora said.

Dilution would require the same amount of water, plus about 10 percent more, he said, which would come from the plant’s treated sewage water.

Removing the solids and chemicals is easy, he said, but extracting the dissolved salts is not, which is why dilution might be the most economical option.

“Honestly, we’re open,” he said. “We’ll consider any system that does that job.”

Unlike at Williamsport or Sunbury, however, the resulting Hanover Township water won’t be sent to the existing treatment facility and would need to be purchased by gas companies for use in drilling.

“We want a system that isn’t going to discharge (into a waterway, such as the Susquehanna River), whether or not there’s a byproduct we have to dispose of in another fashion,” he said.

There is an old rail spur at the site that could be reconditioned. Rail is the preferred transportation method, he said, because it’s faster and less disturbing to the community. However, a trucking route is being considered utilizing a second entrance that passes only a few homes, he said.

That route requires the rebuilding of a washed-out bridge.

“We’ve looked at some alternatives, where really the impact on the neighborhood is minimal,” he said.

All proposals require a bid bond of 10 percent of the total bid. Minora declined to offer an estimated cost.

Copyright: Times Leader