TerrAqua Resource Management's (TARM) new treatment facility in Williamsport, Pa., for wastewater generated from hydrofracking, well development and production was the first of its kind in Pennsylvania and required the firm, a subsidiary of Williamsport, Pa.-based Larson Design Group, to obtain a special “beneficial re-use permit” from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection.

< The custom facility contains 96 “frac” tanks to store and keep separate the watercoming from different clients.
Photo: Courtesy of TARM
The custom facility contains 96 “frac” tanks to store and keep separate the watercoming from different clients.

LDG principal Marty Muggleton says TARM saw a need that local sanitary authorities had trouble meeting and stepped in with a solution specifically for the natural-gas and oil industry. He says the flowback and produced water from Marcellus shale development has a higher salt content that is “disruptive” to the biological treatment systems at most local facilities to treat industrial wastewater.

As a result, TARM built an 80,000-sq-ft facility to treat flowback and produced water using chemical processes and by adjusting pH levels, which typically are more successful in treating the water from fracking, Muggleton says. “It is very straightforward. Nothing we have is proprietary,” he says.

What sets the facility apart, Muggleton says, is the 96 separate “frac” tanks, each capable of storing up to 21,500 gallons of water. The tanks keep different clients' water separate, so the water is never commingled; the trucks leave with the same—but treated—water with which they arrived.

Muggleton says the TARM process benefits not only Marcellus shale development but also mitigates environmental impacts through reuse of water resources, reducing the carbon footprint and impacts on local roadways with fewer truck trips.

TARM has plans to build at least two additional facilities in Pennsylvania and is eyeing opportunities at other shale plays across the nation, including the Eagle Ford play in Texas. Although a facility like TARM's would not be economical at shale plays near abundant sources of water, it could be useful where recycling of the generated water becomes optimal, Muggleton says.