This is a statement from Lea Harper who had led the Ohio grass-roots fight against water sales to drillers by the Muskingum Conservancy Watershed District.
OPPOSITION TO MWCD WATER SALES CONTINUES
Individuals and Grassroots Organizations Rally to Oppose Resumption of Massive Water Sales
The permanent pollution and loss of tens of millions of gallons of water from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District are likely from a plan to sell reservoir water to the Village of Cadiz, opponents warned (Thursday). Mass volumes of water are at stake in MWCD’s proposed agreement with Cadiz to improve the village’s waste treatment financed by re-sale of water for unconventional shale drilling. Opponents expect the contract will be on the agenda of the MWCD board at its August 24 meeting in New Philadelphia and fear there will be Board approval.
Fracking destroys vast amounts of freshwater supplies when water mixed with toxic fluid is injected into new wells to extract natural gas from the shale. Up to 80% of the toxic injected mixture remains in the ground and may eventually migrate into groundwater supplies. The remainder is so poisonous it can never be re-used and must be disposed of permanently, creating a toxic waste disposal problem.
“The whole scheme makes no sense to us,” states Lea Harper of the Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water (SOASOW). “How many cities, townships, counties, even individual property owners, would like to sell water to make money for themselves? As a property owner paying the property tax assessment to the MWCD, I have more right to the water than Cadiz, only 25% of which is located within the District. Not only do we oppose the sale of water for fracking - the one industry which is exempt from important environmental regulations - but we also oppose the profiteering that this represents at the expense of a very valuable public resource.”
On June 7, 2012, the MWCD announced the halt of water sales to the fracking industry pending the results of a USGS study due to be completed by the end of the year. Prior to the announcement, the MWCD had been leasing for fracking and planning large-scale water sales. The conservancy district has already realized $30 million in lease payments and approximately $99,000 in additional revenue by selling 11 million gallons from Clendening Reservoir to complete the Gulfport well on Boy Scout camp property next to the reservoir. Many more millions of gallons in sales are contemplated, along with the installation of pipelines to facilitate the water removal from the watershed by the MWCD.
The US Army Corps of Engineers predicted in 2011 that the water sales planned by MWCD would cause nearly a nearly eight foot drop in water levels at some reservoirs. “How can a conservancy district, charged with the public trust to manage valuable water resources, consider such large freshwater withdrawals without completion of a comprehensive watershed analysis by the USGS and Army Corps?” said Harper. “The MWCD leaves much to be desired about the reasoning and justifications for their decisions. Not enough public input has been solicited or considered, despite the promises from MWCD staff when we met for most of a day on July 2. The public deserves a large share of agenda time on August 24 to respond to the Cadiz request and once again, test MWCD’s commitment to keeping their promises.”
Many were also surprised by The Nature Conservancy’s endorsement of the MWCD’s plans to sell water. “The Nature Conservancy either doesn’t understand that there is far more to the water sales story, or they’re selling their brand to greenwash fracking, which is creating a monumental economic and environmental disaster,” said Terry Lodge, attorney for the Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water (SOASOW). “The MWCD seems intent on destroying the high-quality water resource it was created to protect in the interest of the public in exchange for interests in this risky industry.”
SOASOW invites property owners within the conservancy district to attend the next Board meeting on August 24 in New Philadelphia, Ohio to ask questions and get answers. “It appears to us that the MWCD is operating only within the parameters of what is legal technically, at the expense of what is prudent and best for the future of millions of Ohioans,” said Lea Harper. “We demand to know what their plans are to change policy about water sales for the future, and how that could affect future water supplies for human, agricultural and other important industries within the watershed.”
The FreshWater Accountability Project is committed to preserving clean water and to pre-empting possible environmental degradation while establishing accountability on behalf of those who may be detrimentally affected and deserve compensation if their water and quality of life are adversely affected by hydraulic fracturing activities, including migration of toxins into water supplies, spills and waste disposal, which also includes inadequate treatment and discharge, injection wells, and the spreading of “brine” (frack waste) on public roadways.
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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.