OH Watershed Looking to Increase Water Sales for Fracking

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) has ordered a study to determine if three of the district’s reservoirs—Clendening, Atwood and Leesville—can safely become a source of water sales for drillers who need water for hydraulic fracturing. Some residents are concerned, but the MWCD is already successfully selling some water and believes there may be an opportunity to sell more.

Amid some concerns from residents, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is moving forward with a study to determine if three of the district’s reservoirs can withstand the sale of water for use in fracking wells.

The MWCD board currently has an agreement with Gulfport Energy Company for the sale of 11 million gallons of water from Clendening Lake.

Under the agreement, the conservancy district is reimbursed $9 per 1,000 gallons from Gulfport Energy for a total of $99,000, said Darrin Lautenschleger, public affairs officer with the MWCD. That money is placed in the general fund for operation of the district.

"(The agreement) is capped at 11 million gallons and that represents less than one percent of the water from Clendening Lake," Lautenschleger said. "The district has been approached, had about a dozen inquiries, and that’s the only agreement that’s been proposed to the board of directors and been approved."

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is set to conduct a study of three lakes in the district – Clendening, Atwood and Leesville – to determine if they are capable of withstanding the sale of water for the fracking industry, Lautenschleger said.

The MWCD covers more than 8,000 square miles, or about 20 percent of Ohio, from just above Canton to Marietta and drains into the Muskingum River. Overall, the MWCD spans five counties and portions of 22 others and includes a system of 16 reservoirs.

"We share their concerns, and that’s a primary reason we’re having the research done with the USGS," Lautenschleger said. "We want to determine what capacity is there and how to best then evaluate the requests for any sale of water into the future."*

*Marietta (OH) The Marietta Times (Jun 6, 2012) – Water sale for fracking