Transport of Hydraulic Fracturing Water and Wastes in the Susquehanna River Basin, Pennsylvania

Publication Date



The development of the Marcellus Shale gas play in Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States has resulted in significant amounts of water and wastes transported by truck over roadways. This study used geographic information systems (GIS) to quantify truck travel distances via both the preferred routes (minimum distance while also favoring higher-order roads) as well as, where available, the likely actual distances for freshwater and waste transport between pertinent locations (e. g., gas wells, treatment facilities, freshwater sources). Results show that truck travel distances in the Susquehanna River Basin are greater than those used in prior life-cycle assessments of tight shale gas. When compared to likely actual transport distances, if policies were instituted to constrain truck travel to the closest destination and higher-order roads, transport mileage reductions of 40-80% could be realized. Using reasonable assumptions of current practices, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with water and waste hauling were calculated to be 70-157 MT CO2 eq per gas well. Furthermore, empty so-called backhaul trips, such as to freshwater withdrawal sites or returning from deep well injection sites, were found to increase emissions by an additional 30%, underscoring the importance of including return trips in the analysis. The results should inform future life-cycle assessments of tight shale gases in managed watersheds and help local and regional governments plan for impacts of transportation on local infrastructure. (C) 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers.


Journal of Environmental Engineering





First Page



Civil and Environmental Engineering

This document is currently not available here.