EPA released proposed pretreatment standards for shale gas and shale oil operations as well as operations targeting other types of tight formations on March 31. The proposal would establish a “zero discharge” standard for discharges of this wastewater (including flowback and produced water) to publicly owned treatment works (“POTWs”), effectively prohibiting the discharge of flowback or produced water to POTWs. The comment period on the proposal ended on July 17. Environmental groups and water supply associations submitted comments agreeing with the proposal, while industry groups argued that there should be risk-based pretreatment limits that would allow some wastewater to be sent to POTWs.
The final rule is expected to be issued in summer 2016.