On January 8, 2010, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) issued its finalized Marcellus industry guidance document relating to large water fracture operations, specifically addressing water use, storm water, water disposal, and other pad management issues. The guidance document places an emphasis on water use, encouraging permittees to utilize a new water use tool available on the WVDEP website (which takes into account historical flows and seasonal variation to identify streams eligible for water withdrawals), and emphasizing that the onus is upon the permittee to assure that its withdrawals do not impact existing uses of the surface water. The guidance document also discusses the anticipated growth in the disturbed area for well sites and the larger size of pits, reminding permittees to use BMPs to limit and control soil erosion and sediment at the well site. Finally, the guidance document discusses the various disposal options, but does not mandate any specific forms of water handling or disposal.
Permittees will be expected to submit a permit addendum consistent with the policy as part of the permit application if it anticipates that more than 5,000 barrels of water will be used or disposed of in the development process. The addendum compels the permittee to identify the amounts and sources of frac water (i.e. whether the water is surface water, recycled water, or water provided by a water supplier). It also requires that a permittee disclose the use of pits, the dimensions of pits, and the proposed method of wastewater handling.
The WVDEP guidance document and permit addendum may be accessed through the following website address: http://www.dep.wv.gov/oil-and-gas/Pages/default.aspx.
Legislative Rule-Making Committee Passes Amended WVDEP Oil and Gas Rule
On January 14, 2010, the West Virginia Legislature's Legislative Rule Making Committee approved revisions to 35 Code of State Rules, Series 4, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Oil and Gas Rule. The amendment to the rule includes increasing fees for the processing of permits, and the addition of several new provisions relating to the design of pits and impoundments at well sites, including requirements that two feet of free board be maintained at all times, and that all pits and impoundments be installed with a synthetic liner. Other new provisions include that impoundments of a certain size and height be subject to the requirements of the West Virginia Dam Safety Act, and that impoundments with storage capacity larger than 5,000 barrels be subject to certain safety requirements, such as the installation of perimeter fencing, the inspection by a professional engineer of the impoundment prior to use, and the inspection by the operator of the impoundment every two weeks during use. Finally, the amendments address the disclosure and marking of pipelines located in designated coal mining areas.
Armando F. Benincasa
Chase Tower - Eighth Floor
707 Virginia Street E.
Charleston, WV 25301