Protecting our water. Preserving our future.

Water Sales Put Regional Supplies at Risk

Water Sales Put Regional Supplies at Risk

GRAND RAPIDS, OH (December 12, 2013) A report just issued from FracTracker, a data gathering and dissemination organization, supports concerns that water profiteering from sales of millions of gallons by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) in SE Ohio can create long-term water supply problems. According to the FracTracker initial study results found at http://www.fractracker.org/2013/12/water-demands/, “The sustainability of the watershed’s freshwater stocks and flows is of concern to many, given climate trends and the fact that the MWCD, according to their website, is ‘…awaiting results from a U.S. Geological Survey analysis of water availability at several other reservoirs before deciding whether to approve a growing number of requests for water by other drilling companies.’”

By this time next year, researchers predict that 12.4% of regional water supplies needed for average human usage will go to fracking. “The true effects of the MWCD’s decision to make fracking the pre-eminent goal of the District has chained the future of the entire watershed to the destruction of the lakes and longtime industries such as recreation and agriculture they have supported,” stated Lea Harper, Chair of the FreshWater Accountability Project Ohio (http://www.fwapoh.com/) and founder of the Facebook organization, Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water (SOASOW). “The MWCD, without properly elected public representatives and almost no accountability, has become a welfare department and chamber of commerce for a single industry – fracking – which threatens the air, water and property values in the region for a very long time to come. They are making their private profits at public expense.”

The recent report issued by FracTracker states: “According to our analysis of 306 drilling, drilled, or producing OH Utica gas wells, the hydraulic fracturing process requires on average 4.6-4.8 million gallons of water per well(2). This is equal to 2.8-2.9 billion gallons of water to-date for the watershed’s 613 wells or 4.5-4.7 billion gallons across the state’s currently permitted 985 wells.”

“The true effects of the MWCD’s decision to support fracking at the expense of all other water needs in the area is even more alarming because windfall profits are being made by a single, highly unregulated agency, for a single, highly unregulated industry,” observed Lea Harper. “Combine this with other private and public water sales that are taking place along with Antero’s proposed pipeline to extract almost 5 million gallons a day from the Ohio River, and the region has a perfect storm brewing for future water shortages, loss of environmental flow and severe contamination problems with the water that remains.”

Water costs are already going up in the conservancy district, and there are plans for more rate increases. This is to be expected as freshwater supplies in Ohio are consumed in significant amounts, such as the MWCD’s water sales to Antero. Approximately two million gallons a day is being sold from Seneca Lake for fracking at .425 cents per gallon – a cut rate price for valuable freshwater that can never be reused or replaced. Even so, the conservancy district stands to make $8,500 per day just from selling reservoir water, netting about $782,000 for three months of water sales just from one reservoir. The MWCD has sold water from other reservoirs in the district as well and has plans to sell more despite public protest and research that urges water conservation.

FWAPOH continues to work with FracTracker and other organizations to document the water destruction by the fracking industry and alert Ohioans to the damage being caused by the only industry exempted from important provisions in federal Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts. Ohio’s water is being taken for a temporary, out-of-state, global multi-national industry aiming to export gas and other products extracted, leaving Ohioans with considerably less groundwater and surface waters. What is left of freshwater supplies is being put at risk for toxic and radioactive contamination. Years later, when the industry boom is over and profits are spent, what is left underground in the fracking long laterals or disposed of in injection wells can migrate into groundwater aquifers and reservoir surface waters, contaminating public and private drinking water supplies.

“By putting regional water supplies at risk, the conservancy district betrays the doctrine of public benefit that was used to justify the tax assessment by the MWCD in 2005, and we believe, the original reason the land was deeded to the district,” Harper commented. “Ohioans need to get involved now to protect their water supplies if they don’t want to end up like Texans who are now paying dearly for the scarce, clean water they have left after droughts and the fracking industry and its water profiteers have destroyed so much.”

View pdf here: Regional Water at Risk

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