The DRBC’s revisions to the draft were published ahead of the scheduled November 21 public meeting. The Commission plans to discuss the draft, then take a vote. Period for comment is closed. There will be no public testimony at the meeting. Selections from the fact sheet are below:
• All water sources within the basin used for natural gas development activities must have Commission approval.
• In order to encourage the use of sources other than fresh water for hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells, the revised draft regulations provide for ADAs for the diversion into the basin (importation) of non-contact cooling water, treated wastewater that meets certain criteria, mine drainage water, and recovered flowback and production water (if within the same state) to be used in hydraulic fracturing.
• Mandatory surface water sampling will be performed by the Commission before and after well pad construction, each well stimulation, and annually thereafter, unless the project sponsor elects and is approved to perform this work. DRBC also will undertake a regional ambient surface water monitoring program.
• The revised draft regulations require pre- and annual post-construction groundwater sampling reports as a condition of the BWA for all natural gas well pad projects, not just for high-volume hydraulic fracturing projects as in the Dec. 2010 draft.
• To encourage the use of sources other than fresh water for hydraulic fracturing, each BWA will contain a standard condition providing that if the source project and the receiving project are located within the basin and within the same state, reuse of flowback and production water may be undertaken in compliance with conditions of the approval issued by the host state.
• To ensure that untreated natural gas wastewater is not released to the groundwater or surface waters of the basin, in accordance with the BWA: (a) flowback and production water must be stored in closed tanks and either reused or removed from the pad site within a prescribed time (usually 90 days); (b) open impoundments at pad sites may be used only to store fresh water; and (c) no wastewater (treated or untreated), hydraulic fracturing fluid, mine drainage water, other fluids or unused water from any source may be placed into any fresh water impoundment or discharged to groundwater, surface water, roads or other land surfaces or otherwise used at a natural gas project site or elsewhere within the basin without the express written approval of the Executive Director or Commission and the appropriate state agency. There can be no open storage of any fluid other than fresh water on a pad site; centralized wastewater storage facilities, including open impoundments, serving multiple pad sites can be constructed and operated in accordance with state regulations.