Local Trout Hatchery Expands Business through Marcellus Water Sales

A local trout hatchery has found a new business opportunity from an unexpected source—providing water for Marcellus Shale development.

Photo: Inside view of trout hatchery facilityA local trout hatchery has found a new business opportunity from an unexpected source—providing water for Marcellus Shale development. Chief Oil & Gas recently purchased more than 3 million gallons of trout hatchery overflow water from Sugar Hollow Trout Hatchery in Tunkhannock, PA-- excess water that would have otherwise been discharged into Bowman’s Creek.

Chief was the first Marcellus customer for hatchery owner Dan Williams, MD. The water was used for hydraulic fracturing at the Teel Unit #3H in Susquehanna County.


Sugar Hollow Trout hatchery has been a local business and landmark for decades.  Dr. Dan Williams’ father, William R. Williams, VMD, started the hatchery in the 1960s as a hobby. An avid outdoorsman and fisherman, he continued to grow the business by engaging local Trout Unlimited chapters, organizations that did trout stocking in local streams, and by serving a demand created in the restaurant business in metropolitan cities.  By 1980, the business grew so large that Williams committed to it full time.

Photos: Reservoir, Golden trout

"I remember when we used to provide trout for the restaurants in NYC.  They’d have massive aquariums in their restaurants and customers would choose their "fresh trout" from the tank.  We’d restock the tanks multiple times each week," stated Williams.  "I thought it was great to hang out at these elegant restaurants in NYC."

The family continued to run the trout hatchery until a massive rain storm in 2006 damaged most of the hatchery.  The lower section of the hatchery was sold to an outside investor.  By 2008, Dr. Williams created a plan to refurbish the main hatchery and reservoir.  His plan included selling water to companies needing it for natural gas development.  His goal was to provide a high-tech, efficient site for water withdrawal.

Photos: Pump station, Instructions for water transfer

A State of the Art Facility

Today, Sugar Hollow Trout Hatchery has a large reservoir which can hold 2.5 millions gallons of water, which comes from shallow water wells from nearby Bowman’s Creek. The facility is approved by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to obtain 400,000 gallons of water per day. This water is used to raise the trout in a "raceway" that oxygenates the constantly flowing water.  Any overflow water is sold to natural gas companies such as Chief for their local operations.

Through a 12" main pipe, the excess water is sent from the reservoir to one of six pumping stations where the companies withdraw the water. Each station is equipped with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems to track water withdrawals electronically. The SCADA system keeps track of each truck, company affiliation, volume of water used and has the capability to track additional items such as air temperature, water temperature, and volume left in reservoir.

Photos: Pump station

"We are pleased to find an important use for this overflow water, while also finding a new opportunity to expand our business. These water sales have really created an additional revenue stream to keep the hatchery sustainable," said Williams, who has hired six workers to man his newly constructed water loading facility. "I’ve hired operations technicians, electrical engineers and an operations director.  In addition, I have a local summer intern who is studying mechanical engineering at Penn State.  This is a great way for him to get hands on experience."

Photos: Reservoir, Golden trout

Kristi Gittins, VP of Public Affairs for Chief Oil & Gas, echoed Williams’ sentiment. "This is a great partnership with the Sugar Hollow Trout Hatchery. It really demonstrates the positive impact that development can have in unexpected places."

Chief Oil & Gas is committed to improving the communities where it operates through economic development while protecting the environment.