In the first approval of its kind in the state, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) last week signed off on a request by the city of Warren, OH, to accept pre-treated natural gas well wastewater.

The Warren Pollution Control Center (WPCC), which had been working on new permitting for about two years, was approved to begin accepting up to 100,000 gallons/day of pre-treated wastewater containing total dissolved solids (TDS), or salts, at levels of up to 50,000 parts per million (ppm).

Warren becomes the first Ohio community to receive OEPA approval to accept and process wastewater generated from hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale deposits. The low-salinity wastewater first will go through a metals removal process, or pre-treatment, then be sent to WPCC and mixed with other wastewater entering the facility for treatment and discharge to the Mahoning River.

If WPCC processes gas well wastewater at the maximum levels allowed under the permit, TDS concentrations in the Mahoning River are projected to increase by about 60 ppm under critical low-flow conditions, the state agency said. OEPA said it determined that the increase “should not cause significant biological impacts to the Mahoning River or impact downstream drinking water sources.”

To track effluent toxicity in the Mahoning River and potential impacts on aquatic life, WPCC is required to conduct daily TDS monitoring and increase whole effluent toxicity testing to every three months from once a year. The facility also is required to monitor monthly for chloride, sulfate, barium and strontium, and submit an annual report detailing the presence of any naturally occurring radioactive material.

The new service will require nine to 12 new employees, and the water treatment services will result in up to $300,000 a year in additional revenue for the city.

Before issuing the final permit, a proposed permit was issued in September and OEPA accepted written public comments through Nov. 4. OEPA’s response to comments and the final permit are available on the Marcellus Shale website.