Natural Gas Development Gives Aquatech A Helping Hand and Vice-Versa

Natural gas development has helped to revitalize Pennsylvania’s economy and create jobs.  Examples exist to counter the speculation as to the exact number of jobs created, and Aquatech, a company that specializes in water purification technology, is just one of many who have hired more people and expanded business thanks to natural  gas development.

There is always skepticism about the actual number of jobs natural gas development brings to an area.  Our friends on the other side of the issue try to minimize economic benefits that are fairly obvious to us.  Many supporters of natural gas tend to focus on jobs directly related to the development process and infrastructure – pipelines, well completion, hauling and that sort of thing.

While these activities do provide many jobs, there are also many ancillary positions created as a direct result of natural gas development.  Aquatech, is a perfect example of such an ancillary business.  Its success is being directly affected by natural gas development in Pennsylvania and with that comes economic benefits for its owners, its employees, the communities where it pays taxes and its customers.

Aquatech and Flowback Recycling

Aquatech has been working with the energy industry for approximately 30 years and is based within the Marcellus Shale region. It was established in 1981 and is a industry leader in water purification technology; the company focuses on desalination, water reuse and zero liquid discharge for a variety of enterprises.  It also, with respect to natural gas development, works in the field of recycling flowback fluid.  Its motto in this regard is “good for the unconventional gas industry and good for the environment.”

Many operators in the Marcellus Shale have been taking advantage of rapidly advancing technology and moving to the full recycling of flowback fluid for some time.  Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) member companies have adopted a 100% flowback recycling standard, in fact.

The company emphasizes the positive impacts of flowback recycling on the sustainability of natural gas operations and the environment.   Through the use of on-site water treatment, Aquatech is able to scale back noise, dust, carbon emissions and road damage associated with natural gas development.  Mitigating these issues is effectively reducing the environmental footprint of natural gas development on a daily basis.

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Where MoTreat Fits Into the Hydraulic Fracturing Process

One example of Aquatech’s services to natural gas development is the MoTreat or Mobile Water Pre-Treatment System, which directly reduces truck traffic for water hauling.  This, in turn, means less wear and tear on roads.  MoTreat is outfitted to handle different treatment options:

Reduction of hardness compounds, disinfection against bacteria and precipitation of selective metals.

Below is a video highlighting Aquatech’s activities in the Marcellus Shale region:

Aquatech Expansion

Aquatech has expanded its business twice in the last year, each time adding more warehouses and office space because of  increased business brought in from Marcellus Shale development.  Besides having the opportunity to grow their business physically, they have also provided the Canonsburg, Pennsylvania area with more jobs throughout this economic downturn.

Aquatech broke ground earlier this year on a 35,000 – 40,000 square feet expansion; a project that will allow them to better handle the growing Marcellus Shale industry.

Our integrated water services business is continuing to grow as well as the shale gas (water treatment) business in the Marcellus and other shale areas around the U.S. Aquatech, which has more than 200 people working at the Canonsburg headquarters, will have more than 250 employees at the site when the expansion is completed –  President and Chief Executive Officer Venkee Sharma.

Since operating in the area for 30 years, Aquatech refers to Canonsburg Pennsylvania as their world headquarters. It’s safe to say that these jobs will be around for a long time based on Aquatech’s invested interest in the region and that’s great news for southwestern Pennsylvania as well as everyone else, not to mention the environment.


  1. Richard Latker says:

    Of course resource extraction generates wealth and jobs. It also generates real problems that, understandably, the industry will seek to minimize or deny, because mitigating such problems costs real money.

    Although written as public-relations/marketing material, this example nonetheless underscores how sensible regulation of extraction activities does more than simply protect the environment and public health — it creates tangible economic benefits. Thanks for posting it.

    It would be interesting to know more about the mitigation market.

  2. Donald Roessler says:

    A lot of people don’t know this technology exists let alone that it it is already being used. Including those of us who live near Canonsburg where Aquatech’s main headquarters is located.
    Thanks Joe and Tom for a very good article.

  3. Janice Gibbs says:

    If the companies are using this technology, why are there so many open water impoundments all over Washington County, Pennsylvania, where AquaTech is located?

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      There are numerous fresh water impoundments and many people mistakenly think they are “frack ponds” although there are some operators who have not yet switched over to closed-loop systems and the new technologies. It will happen.

      • Tom Frost says:

        “It will happen.”

        You mean like the way your buddy Cabot isn’t going to start bothering to do green completions until its, and your, favorite 3-letter government agency gives it that scheduled-for-2014-or-whenever-it-is boot in the pants requiring it to do so?

        Hmmm, that boot in Cabot’s pants could come sooner than that if somebody rubs their nose in it with an aerial banner in front of thousands of its sheeple. But on the other hand, I think I’ll just stick with “Fix Dimock’s Water”.

      • Donald Roessler says:

        Tom, Do you have information on what companies are and aren’t using Aquatech’s technology ?? According to this article I get the impression that Range Resources is using it.

        Hi Janice !!!! LOL !!!! Treat her nice Tom she is on our side.

    • Richard Latker says:

      I doubt that most companies are using the technology, but it is a promising sign nonetheless that the company exists and is, presumably, profitable.

      Whether or not the contaminated water is processed effectively depends almost entirely on the local county or municipal government. If they apply hazardous waste rules and ensure that the effluent po0ls are drained frequently, technology like this is required.

      Also, many landowners who have leased their properties recently have been clever enough to negotiate covenants on their leases to ensure that the pools are drained promptly. Unfortunately, the 10s of thousands of landwoners who signed earlier leases not only get meagre royalties, they also enjoy no such protection, and have watched helplessly as the effluent pools sit undrained for weeks or months, and overflow during the storms.

  4. fred jones says:

    Here is a few points from a Oct 2012 Texas piece on re-cycling frac water and some interesting numbers.

    “We’ve had some clients experiment with different stages,” he continued, with some using as much as 55 percent recycled water. He estimated the average is 22 percent recycled water used in his clients’ wells.
    “Now they have to rethink their whole program,” he said. “It requires a lot of research and has slowed progress as operators review the best path forward.” Some operators are aggressively adopting recycling programs while others are proceeding with more caution. “It’s a huge risk; you can spend millions and cause problems if you use too much recycled water.”
    In some cases, he said, the salts contained in the water can be incompatible with additives. His company’s chemical-free technology can eliminate some of those issues, he added. (Oct 2012)

    Typically 10% to 30% of the water used to fracture well returns to the surface. This was data from a 2011, not sure what the recovery rate is today. So we are still looking at a lot of frac fluid left in the ground. And as water is re-used it becomes more saline and more chemically saturated, so problems with “formulas” arises and some operators do not use recycled frac water and probably won’t until the salts and chemicals are mostly removed in the process first.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      None of this squares with what’s happening in the field in Northeast PA where Cabot, for example, is recycling nearly 100%. It depends upon the process and the degree of treatment of water before it is re-used.

      • You should check out the plant in McKean County PA. It is the next step in water recycling. Not only can the water be recycled to the Gas field for re-use, it can also be recycled back to the environment. It is powered by carbon neutral fuel also.

  5. James Barth says:

    EID is a PR firm, but, if it wants to be taken seriously in the shale gas extraction debate (by anyone other than its choir), then it really needs to stop ignoring the elephants, that still, 8 years after Marcellus production started in PA, rampage across its field of vision, and which EID still ignores in order to make its talking points seem valid.

    Joe, how many jobs has the Aquatech expansion created, that are a direct result of purifying shale gas flowback waste? If you are going to write such an article, it might be helpful if you presented that information, and, that it be real information, not fabricated statistics, the likes of which Tom was recently blasted for presenting in his opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Neither the Commonwealth, nor the US EPA, require recycling, by law. It is voluntary. How many companies are using green completions, let alone this one aspect?

    Here is an article from The Columbus Dispatch, on January 14, 2013.

    “A Texas-based company’s plan to ship thousands of barrels of “fracking” waste into Ohio on river barges has been put on hold as federal officials investigate environmental questions…Barges add a new wrinkle to the flood of waste fluids washing into Ohio from the thousands of natural-gas wells drilled into Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale…State records show that 12.2 million barrels of fracking waste and brine were injected in the first half of 2012, 56 percent of which came from Pennsylvania and West Virginia.”

    What about those numbers? Over one half billion gallons of flowback waste was injected into Ohio’s injection wells DURING THE FIRST HALF OF 2012! Fifty-six percent came from the Marcellus extraction in PA and WV. How much was trucked into Ohio during the second half of 2012?

    As you guys have proven time and again, first you deny problems exist, until you make fools of yourselves, then, you declare that those same non existent problems have been solved, way before that is truth.

    Now, you want to ship the flowback waste on the Ohio River, on barges? Problem solved? Get real.

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      You’re in denial, Jim. Look around you. Cabot is recycling 100%.

    • Richard Latker says:

      James: Your post is insightful and was much appreciated — until the penultimate paragraph.

      You are quite right that the site and most of its contents are biased, crafted for in exchange for dollars by public relations professionals. But unlike most, they make no secret of this, and — even more importantly — they open their posted articles to public commentary and criticism. That’s rare.

      It means at least someone involved in the project has integrity, and is interested in advancing their agenda through open public discourse. That lends deserved credibility to the site.

      It also gives people an opportunity to criticise the industry on its own turf, and challenge misleading or inaccurate information. So please, brings as many facts to the table as you can. But please eschew statements like “you guys make fools of yourselves” or anything else that could be construed as a personal attack.

      Remember too that there is a plurality of interests within the industry, and they aren’t always in agreement. A company selling mitigation and recycling services is going to have a different perspective on regulation than a lease consolidator, or a logistics operator.

      • James Barth says:

        Thank you Richard, for your comment, and your perspective.

        I’m always interested in improving my writing, and will continue to work at it.

        I would ask that you please apply this same perspective, and request, to EID’s posts. You might look to a recent effort by Rachael Colley, the headline of which reads, “Loco Ono”, instead of Yoko Ono. Tom, Joe, Rachael, the guest bloggers of EID, all, frequently, swim in these personal, muddy waters.

        It would be nice to clean it up as much as possible.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          Let’s review your past remarks, Jim. Check out:

          “Certain corporate behavior needs to be criminalized well beyond “white collar” status.”

          “It is absolutely clear that this type of approach is the only path to take, and that the industry has no word to take at face value. Lee Fuller is a smarmy propagandist who has no credibility. He, and his organization, are the lying attack dogs the industry sends to bash anyone and everything that undermines its delusion of reality, whether it be Gasland the movie, or the Congressional Committee headed by Waxman, Markey and DeGette.”

          “They desperately fear federal oversight, and a strong EPA that is actually doing its job. At the same time, they deny they have ever received exemptions from federal law (Halliburton loopholes), and that federal rules would be redundant to those of the States.”

          “These people (corporations included, unfortunately) are pathological liars. They literally must be nailed down.”

          By the way here’s an explanation of the Halliburton Loophole myth:

          How about we make a deal, Jim? You stop calling us pathological liars and we’ll stop calling you snide.

          • James Barth says:

            Tom stretches back , almost 24 months, to quote, selectively, from a comment I made after an article in ProPublica. That article documented how this industry had been found to have used diesel in fracking fluid, after having made an agreement with the US EPA, not to use diesel, in fracking fluid.

            The article went on to quote industry representatives as saying that the industry had not violated its agreement with the EPA, because, in their view, they had only agreed to not use diesel when drilling in coal bed methane formations. It is within this context, and, within which Lee Fuller was quoted, in the article, that I commented in that fashion. I stand squarely behind it.

            Thanks for at least providing people with the link, Tom. Perhaps, they will actually read the article.

            You really should have quoted my whole comment though, as the 50% you quote, would have made much more sense, and would have been more elegant, in context. The fact that you choose to highlight certain portions in bold type, without identifying those highlights as your changes, only shows how inappropriately you still write.

            The simple fact that you can not seem to comprehend, is, that you, Colley, and Massaro write your ARTICLES in a sophomoric fashion. You do this by presenting straw arguments, and, by childishly altering people’s names, or, organization’s names (do I need to remind you of your reference to Delaware RiverCreeper, instead of Delaware RiverKeeper, again)? Yoko Ono recently became Loco Ono, in the headline, no less. Almost every time you write your articles, you weakly attempt to undermine your opposition, in this juvenile way. Are you proud of yourselves? Do you truly like to write articles in this fashion? To whom are you writing?

            Let’s go back to my original post. Why don’t you respond to the meat of the numbers in the article that I presented?

            It is because you can not. I presented information that crushes your misrepresented position, and you can’t say anything of value, so you simply responded by saying that I am “in denial”, and that “Cabot is recycling 100%”. What about the other 97% of the industry, Tom? What about all the other (voluntary, not required by law) aspects of green completions that are not being performed by the industry? What about those numbers presented in the Columbus Dispatch article, Tom?

            Read my bottom post, Tom. I stand by that, too.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            You are one angry man, Jim, and talk about sophomoric writing! Anger isn’t going to win the day, nor are $500 million celebrities with no talent who are motored in by Mercedes vehicles to visit junkyards. You are perfectly content to engage in name-calling when it comes to our side but feign righteous indignation when we engage in mild versions of what you and your friends do every day. Get over it. Recycling is happening and not just at Cabot but with multiple companies. Green completions are happening as well. And, you know what else? The EPA said the water in Dimock was safe, just as every state agency in PA and elsewhere has said about hydraulic fracturing in general. Those are the facts which you deny.

          • Jim Barth says:

            Yes, Tom, I am very capable of being angry, no doubt about it, but, unlike you, my writing is almost always to the point, and, multiple points, when the issues warrant it. You, on the other hand, just dance around to your heart’s content, ignoring things that are inconvenient for you, taking lame pot shots at people, while creating straw arguments, and presenting misinformation. I’d say you have a pretty cool job, writing for EID, except what it must do to your soul.

            The Dimock water issue, I’ll be more than happy to take up another time, maybe after seeing the movie, and, or, perhaps after your upcoming opinion piece on it?. After all, even Kevin Begos, in his rather lame review of the movie, criticized McAleer for painting a misleading picture on Dimock, which, is certainly your forte.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            Seems to me your arguments are nothing but straw man type, Jim, sort of like your friend Lone Bear.

          • James Barth says:


            The only site I visit less than yours, is FaceBook.

            Your EID site, and FaceBook, have a lot in common, in that you invade my email. That’s when I visit, sometimes. Since I have a Google Alert based upon a set of words, your site seems to invade about three to five days after you post your PR pieces. If the notices did not appear in my email, I would not visit, or, comment. Why does anyone read your posts? Except, perhaps, to have their backs scratched?

            FaceBook, more benign, tells me when someone wants to be a “friend”, or, when I have “notifications”, which I ignore. Still, that is when I visit the site.

            Whomever Lone Bear is, she must be an anti frac’er who requested to be a “friend”. I’m happy to befriend anti-frac’ers on FaceBook. Who knows, they may share information with me that is important. Unlike you, Tom, who speaks nothing of the truth. Perhaps, I have 300 “friends”?

            FaceBook, Tom? Is that how low you (try) to go? Do you limbo, Tom?

          • Richard Latker says:

            Both of you, please stop. Talk about email clutter!

            James: this is PRO-FRACK site. It does not purport to be anything else. Most people here will be sympathetic to a pro-frack point of view.

            Tom runs this site, and spends many of his waking hours doing it. He has complete discretion over who can post and who can’t. He can insult you at will, if that’s his pleasure, though that’s counter-productive.

            Nonetheless, he allows you to post even though your opinion is worlds apart from his. Please understand and respect this. Engaging him in a pis*ing contest serves no purpose at all, unless your aim is to provoke him rather than address the real issues at hand.

          • James Barth says:

            Tom. Reread your empty post about recycling, and green completions, where all you say is: “Recycling is happening and not just at Cabot but with multiple companies. Green completions are happening as well.”

            You still have nothing you can say, of merit, that is specific, to the story, and numbers, I posted.

            Squirm a little more, Tom. Call me angry, again. What else can you say?

          • Tom Shepstone says:
        • Richard Latker says:

          Yes, I was quite critical of Colley’s article, as you might see in the comments, for more or less the same reason as I criticised your post.

          There’s nothing wrong with vigorous, adversarial debate. But the cornerstone of effective advocacy is respect — for both adversary and the impartial reader. Not only can one get essential points across without insults and ad hominem, it’s usually more far persuasive that way.

          • Tom Shepstone says:

            It’s not ad hominem to point out the absolute absurdity of Yoko Ono lecturing rural landowners about how to live when she lives in the Dakota heated by natural gas and turns out wacky clothing lines that only someone of her inherited wealth could afford to dabble in. She’s an utterly spoiled individual with no credibility whatsoever. The fact you refuse see that tells me you’re not really as serious about the debate as you suggest, Richard. Moreover, if you want to see how folks on your side do it, read Jim Barth’s stuff or Shaleshock Media or pretty much any anti-gas site or maybe Maureen Dowd. You folks just hate it when our side acts even the tiniest bit like you do.

          • Richard Latker says:

            No, it wasn’t ad hominem, and in any case public figures like Ono are fair game. What irritated me about that article was the empty straw man polemics, of the type you seem to be rather fond of.

            In any case, I’m not on either your “sides”. I want to see natural gas production — lots of it. But I don’t want to see landowners screwed over, sloppy operators poisoning the aquifer, state agencies corrupted, or townships reduced to powerless trivialities. There must be checks and balances, and landowners lie at the heart of any rational process.

            My agenda is quite different from the anti-fracking brigade, especially the suburban lefty “activist” types, who expect the federal government to come in with bans and massive new agencies, driving up the cost of energy while weakening the influence of landowners.

            Fracking is necessary, and can benefit everyone. But it is also dangerous, and people who minimise those dangers disingenuously are no better than the fear-mongers.

        • Tom Shepstone says:

          Also, take a look at this video and listen to your ally Vera at 4:00 on as she engages in the crudest form of childish name-calling possible.

          • Richard Latker says:

            I can see why it is so easy to believe that there are only two sides to the fracking issue.

            The loudest voices are

            1) industry and its marketing/PR people, offering baseless assurances that fracking is absolutely safe, and that opposing it or even questioning it is insane, unpatriotic and just plain stupid.

            2) organised “activists” who, despite having no direct economic interest in the issue, somehow find the resources to counter the industry propaganda with shrill, often unsubstantiated proclamations of doom and destruction.

            Meanwhile, the landowners — those most affected by the process — are typically ambivalent. They know the gas is valuable, and they want the best deal possible for themselves and their families. They want to protect their land. They want to see prosperity in their communities. And they know there is no free lunch.

            Landowners, too, come to differing conclusions. Some are convinced that any impact from fracking will be minor compared with the lasting benefits. Others see it as a new resource-grab by unaccountable energy barons, and expect to see soil & water contaminated, land values trashed and properties stolen. But very few are 100% aligned either with the industry or its organised critics.

            The thought processes of this fracking-skeptic landowner are quite typical:


            His thinking isn’t perfect, and not every concern he raises is worthy of much thought. (The earthquake issue, for example. It sounds scary, and it is quite true that fracking can have detectable seismic effects, but they are absurdly minor and can’t possibly cause significant harm.)

            But he does grasp the essence of the situation — provided the shale is deep enough (although I have never heard of a horizontal frack a full mile below the surface), there probably is no real danger from the fracking itself. In the many thousands of years it would take for the brine to reach the aquifer above, it will have long since been rendered inert.

            It’s what is happening up on the surface, in the marketplace, and in distant boardrooms, that counts.

        • Victor Furman says:

          Yoko Ono comes across as loco so I don’t think Rachael’s Opinionated Tittle is off base, It’s kind of like when Jeanette Barth told a crowd of people in Norwich NY back in 2010 she did a peer review of the drill related economics of drilling in her Boom to Bust lecture, when in fact after being questioned by Susan D. she ended up admitting she never did a peer review but took bit’s and pieces of other economist and married their work together for her dog and pony show misrepresenting to a full church that she did the work ! I wonder is Jeanette any relation?

  6. James Barth says:

    I’m in denial? That’s your response to the numbers presented in the Columbus Dispatch article I linked you to?

    Tom, to the contrary, you, and your EID colleagues, are Cleopatras of the 21st century!

    What’s even funnier, is that you now seem to be holding up Cabot as the gold standard of shale gas extraction, when, less than two years ago, the local Wayne County lessors, including you, were pointing at Cabot as the “bad apple”, “rogue”, villain, of the industry.

    I’m getting whiplash watching you grasp at straws. Put a flotation device on, Tom, you are drowning in a flow back pond, that you describe as “fresh water”.

    Perhaps Phelim will come to your rescue?

    • Victor Furman says:

      Well Jim… perhaps you will rescue all of us with your walk on water self persona

      • Jim Barth says:

        So, I’m a very angry man who walks on water. What are you, Victor? A very angry man who walks in ?

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