The Muskingum Conservancy Watershed District today terminated water sales from its reservoirs to natural gas drillers.
The district, based in New Philadelphia, must "slow down the process of managing water sales requests," said John N. Hoopingarner, the district’s executive director/secretary.
The sale of water from its reservoirs will be halted until the district can update its water supply policy that will take into account information reported from an independent water-availability study now under way.
The change stems from concerns expressed by environmental organizations and groups, the public and district staff, the agency said in a press release.
Drillers are eager to get water from six district-managed reservoirs: Clendening Reservoir in Harrison County, Leesville Reservoir in Carroll County, Tappan Lake in Harrison County, Atwood Lake in Carroll and Tuscarawas County, Piedmont Lake in Belmont County and Seneca Lake in Noble and Guernsey counties.
The board has received more than a dozen proposals to tap into its reservoirs for fracking water.
None of those proposals will be considered until after further studies and the update district policy are completed, Hoopingarner said.
The news was hailed by Lea Harper of Senecaville, head of the grass-roots Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water.
She was involved last Saturday in a rally and protest in New Philadelphia against water sales from the district’s reservoirs.
"It’s a wonderful thing," she said. "We’re almost in shock. We had no idea this was coming."
The board had approved the sale of up to 11 million gallons from Clendening Reservoir to Okahoma-based Gulport Energy Co.
A temporary pipeline is being used to draw water from the lake and to transport it to the nearby Gulfport well for hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
The district’s governing board has approved an agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey to do a water availability study for three reservoirs: Atwood, Clendening and Leesville reservoirs.
The district said it hopes to have data from that analysis later this year.
Fracking a well can take from 2 million to 6 million gallons of fresh water, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
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.