A new joint partnership between Casella Waste Systems, Inc. based in Rutland, VT, and Altela, Inc., a privately held water desalination company in Albuquerque, NM, is seeking to provide a solution to the environmental issues surrounding the treatment of mineral‐laden brackish water from Marcellus Shale drilling.
Brackish, salty water produced from drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale basin until recently was often discharged into area rivers, with little or no treatment for hard‐to‐remove salt contaminants. The newly formed joint partnership, “Casella‐Altela Regional Environmental Services, LLC,” or “CARES,” will recycle brackish oilfield and natural gas wastewater into clean distilled water for future use by the industry. The cleaned water is the same quality as rainwater and can be recycled and reused by the oil and gas industry, the partners say.
As part of the joint partnership, Altela will provide the technology to clean the brackish water to a quality higher than state and federal standards, while Casella will provide the working infrastructure and operational facilities for the treatment facility. Altela uses a low‐energy thermal distillation method that mimics nature’s method of producing rain, and neither electricity nor pressure drives the process.
The first water treatment facility will be located at the Casella‐owned landfill located in McKean County, PA. The placement of the treatment facility at the McKean landfill provides a platform to provide a full suite of resource solutions to the drilling companies, including storage for brackish and clean water.
The water treatment facility will be powered by biomethane gas captured from the landfill.
Since the McKean site is adjacent to an existing rail spur, the facility will enable both the transport of large volumes of frac flowback water to the site, and then clean treated water back to its customers throughout Pennsylvania and New York. This will minimize truck traffic to the facility, and reduce truck traffic throughout PA.
Altela announced that this is the first of many facilities planned throughout the Northeast to combine the synergies of landfill waste energy with Altela’s reclamation of pure water from frac flowback water using low‐grade heat—not expensive electricity. Further locations will be announced in the near future.