New publication traces water's journey through shale-gas production

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A new, free publication offered by Penn State Extension examines how water is used and affected during production of natural gas from deep shale formations.

"Water's Journey Through the Shale Gas Drilling and Production Processes in the Mid-Atlantic Region" illustrates the various paths for a water droplet used by the Marcellus Shale natural-gas industry in the mid-Atlantic region.

"Using publicly available information, the publication attempts to track and quantify current water use through the stages of the gas-well development process," said the publication's lead author, Charles Abdalla, professor of agricultural and environmental economics.

The publication details how state and interstate government agencies are being challenged to keep up with the rapid pace of shale-gas development. It notes that new technologies are being tried in both the resource-development process and in managing environmental and water quality and quantity impacts.

The regional river basin commissions, which exist largely in the eastern part of the Marcellus region, have been handling Marcellus water-management issues by developing regulations to address the industry's demands on water resources and potential quantity and quality issues, Abdalla explained.

"This publication focuses mostly on Pennsylvania because it has the most Marcellus drilling activity of any state to date," he said. "Much of the data comes from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which has been out in front in collecting water use data.

"We raise issues pertinent to most other mid-Atlantic states with Marcellus Shale, as well as Ohio," Abdalla added. "The issues discussed, including acquisition and transport of fresh water for drilling, treatment, transport, and discharge of drilling wastewater also may pertain to other shale deposits, such as the Utica Shale, which underlie parts of these states."

Single copies of "Water's Journey Through the Shale Gas Drilling and Production Processes in the Mid-Atlantic Region" can be obtained free of charge by Pennsylvania residents through county Penn State Extension offices, or by contacting the College of Agricultural Sciences Publications Distribution Center at 814-865-6713 or by e-mail at

For cost information on out-of-state or bulk orders, contact the Publications Distribution Center.

The publication also is available on the Web at

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated May 14, 2012