Delaware River at Washington's Crossing
Looking at the Delaware towards Pennsylvania, at Washington's Crossing. PHOTO BY MEG MCGUIRE

DRBC to hold another public hearing on fracking wastewater rules

| February 2, 2022

The Delaware River Basin Commission has announced another public hearing on the hot topics of importing and exporting water to and from the basin, its prohibition on discharging fracked wastewater in the Basin and what it is proposing about what it calls “certain wastewater discharges.”

Environmentalists had clamored for another meeting, in addition to the four that the DRBC had planned and held in December.

For the first time, this hearing will “include enhanced language access to include real-time English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English professional translation, on a pilot basis. Attendees may choose to participate in the virtual hearing in either English or Spanish.” (From the DRBC’s website.)

In addition, again on a pilot basis, the hearing includes toll-free phone numbers for individuals to use to participate in the public hearing via phone. The DRBC said, “This enhances access for those who do not have a computer or those who live in regions with limited internet access.”

The hearing will be held virtually on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, at 1:30 p.m.

If you’re interested in participating, find more information here, where you will also find what the proposed new rules are as well as instructions for submitting written comments.

One element of the new rules will prohibit any discharge of chemically complicated fracked wastewater anywhere “to waters or land within the Basin.”

Speakers at previous public hearings approved of that prohibition.

Many, though, were concerned with what they saw as a “loophole,” which would allow the importation of fracked wastewater into the basin. They were concerned that importation could be of fracked wastewater for treatment at a basin facility with all the attendant dangers of spills, and the possibility that treated fracked wastewater could be discharged into the basin waters.

More about that here:

Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a surefire way to treat fracked wastewater, especially because its chemical components are not public.

Here’s the language from the DRBC’s website about Water Importation (from the same site):

“The proposed regulations clarify the factors the Commission will use in evaluating proposed importations of water or wastewater that meet the Commission’s existing thresholds for review. Although importations of wastewater are ‘discouraged,’ they may be permitted after careful consideration to ensure that available alternatives have been evaluated, treatment is employed to ensure applicable water quality criteria are achieved, restoration efforts are not impeded and uses incorporated in the Commission’s Comprehensive Plan are protected.”

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire has been a journalist for 30 years in New York and Connecticut. She started in weekly newspapers and moved to full-time work in dailies 25 years ago. She knows about the tectonic changes in journalism firsthand, having been part of what was euphemistically called a "reduction in force" six years ago. Now she's working to find new ways to "do" the news as an independent online publisher of news about the Delaware River, its watershed and its people.

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