Gulfport Energy Corp. is buying more water from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.
The district is also looking into whether water could be sold to natural gas drillers from six more of its reservoirs in east-central Ohio.
The district’s governing board on Friday approved a short-term water contract to sell up to 38 million gallons of water from Piedmont Reservoir in Harrison and Belmont counties to Gulfport Energy.
That’s equal to 6,959 loads for a 130-barrel tanker truck, the district said.
The water will be taken from the lake between June 15 and Aug. 15.
The company will pay $8 per 1,000 gallons.
The water is needed to complete three horizontal wells on the northwest side of the reservoir into the Utica shale formation, officials said.
The water will be moved from the lake to the site via a temporary pipeline.
In June and July, the maximum daily withdrawal will be up to 2 million gallons. In August, that limit will be 1 million gallons per day.
The agreement also specifies that withdrawals will cease if the lake’s water level drops below a designated threshold.
The governing board approved a contract with the U.S. Geological Survey to study additional water withdrawals.
The new agreement will study water withdrawals from Charles Mill, Clendening, Piedmont, Pleasant Hill, Seneca and Wills Creek reservoirs.
The study is needed because of the “continued and significant interest” in water withdrawals, Chief Engineer Boris E. Slogar said.
The cost of the study will be up to $65,000 and will be funded by proceeds from temporary water sales the district has approved.
Earlier, the USGS started a similar review of water withdrawals from Atwood, Leesville and Tappan reservoirs. That analysis, approved in March 2012, is expected to be completed soon.
The reports are expected to determine how much water could be sold and taken from the lakes without impacting recreation and other uses.
In a related action, the district also approved a new tighter policy on short-term water sales to drillers and others.
“Extreme caution” should be exercised before such sales are approved, the district said.
The policy states that public drinking water supplies remain the priority for withdrawals from its 10 lakes and that supplying the oil and gas industry must be balanced among the many other multiple benefits of the lakes, including recreation, flood-storage capacity and ensuring acceptable downstream flows.
“It has never been the intent nor the goal of the MWCD that its surface-water lakes serve as the sole or a primary source of water for the entire oil and gas industry in eastern Ohio,” said Sean D. Logan, the district’s chief of conservation. “This policy provides very straightforward guidelines for how requests for sales of water for oil and gas production will be managed by the MWCD.”
To date, the district has approved five water sales to the drilling industry from Clendening, Piedmont and Seneca lakes, a decision that has drawn ire from local grass-root groups.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.