The Muskingum Conservancy Watershed District is expected to vote on Friday on allowing an energy company to tap into a lake in eastern Ohio for fracking water.
Oklahoma-based Gulfport Energy Corp. is seeking approval to take up to 11 million gallons of water from Clendening Reservoir in Harrison County to hydraulically fracture or frack a natural gas well it is developing.
The district’s governing board will be asked to approve a temporary water agreement with Gulfport. The final purchase price has not yet been finalized, officials said.
Clendening Reservoir typically holds about 8.6 billion gallons of water.
A temporary pipeline will be built to move the water from the lake to the drilling site, said district spokesman Darrin Lautenschleger.
That, he said, will eliminate between 900 and 1,200 one-way trips by tanker trucks.
The district, based in New Philadelphia, signed a lease with Gulfport last year on 6,400 acres at Clendening Reservoir.
It was paid a signing bonus of $2,800 per acre plus a royalty on any gas-oil produced of 16 percent.
That signing bonus produced $15.6 million that the district is using to defray debts and to make necessary infrastructure improvements on recreational facilities, Lautenschleger said.
The water agreement with Gulfport marks the first contract approved by the district to provide water to drillers in Ohio’s Utica shale.
The pact would allow the district to cut off water delivery if recreational or environmental problems surfaced, he said.
Officials do not anticipate any problems, he said.
In the past, the district has provided water on a temporary basis for farmers suffering from major droughts, he said.
The district has had numerous inquiries from a dozen drilling companies about selling water from six of its reservoirs in eastern Ohio.
The district’s 18-judge panel, known as the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy Court, is expected to deal on June 2 with a selling price for water that could allow additional deals to advance.
Last month, the district signed an agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey to assess potential water withdrawl impacts on three lakes: Atwood Lake in Carroll and Tuscarawas counties, Leesville in Carroll County and Clendening, Lautenschleger said.
That study by a federal agency would give the district a better idea of potential impacts if large volumes of water are sold to drillers, he said.
The district owns 54,000 acres of land and water in 13 counties from the Akron area south to the Ohio River. That includes 14 reservoirs.
The other reservoirs where drillers have inquired about water are Leesville Lake in Carroll County, Senecaville Lake in Noble and Guernsey counties and Tappan Lake in Harrison County.
Chesapeake Energy Corp., the No. 1 player in eastern Ohio, is buying water from the city of Steubenville. It has also purchased water from other communities and from landowners with wells being drilled.
Some drilling companies have legally tapped water from small streams in eastern Ohio.
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.