DRBC set to vote on fracked wastewater ban
The commission on Wednesday will consider a rule to ban the import or discharge of fracking wastewater in the basin

| December 5, 2022

A sign for the Delaware River Basin Commission outside of its brick building headquarters.
The DRBC will consider a rule on Wednesday to ban the importing or discharging of fracking wastewater in the Delaware River basin.

As is often the way with the really interesting proposals that the Delaware River Basin Commission votes on, it’s hard to see the interesting piece with all the required bureaucratese that frames the action.

So, here it is:

“A Resolution to amend the Comprehensive Plan, Water Code and Special Regulations regarding importations of water into and exportations of water from the Delaware River Basin and discharges of wastewater from high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF”) and HVHF-related activities. (Public hearings held December 8 and 15, 2021, and February 3, 2022.)”

What it means is that the DRBC — remember the commission is the governors of the four basin states along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representing the federal government — is considering what, if any, water from the fracking process should be allowed into the watershed.

And what water could be exported from the watershed for fracking.

The vote is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 10:30 a.m. For more information about getting into the meeting on Zoom, check here.

That link will take you to where the possible actions of the DRBC are spelled out:

“Commission consideration on December 7 of items for which the public hearing is closed may result in approval of the item (by docket or resolution) as proposed, approval with changes, denial or deferral. When the Commissioners defer an action, they may announce an additional period for written comment on the item, with or without an additional hearing date, or they may take additional time to consider the input they have already received without requesting further public input. Any deferred items will be considered for action at a public meeting of the Commission on a future date.”

There have been five public hearings on this topic and most speakers endorsed the prohibition of any discharge of chemically complicated fracked wastewater anywhere “to waters or land within the Basin.”

But many were concerned with what they saw as a “loophole,” which would allow the importation of fracked wastewater into the basin for treatment at a basin facility. They expressed concern that there would be a danger of spills and the possibility that treated fracked wastewater could be discharged into the basin waters.

Here’s a Delaware Currents story on the first public hearing from about a year ago.

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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