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Will Fracking Dry Up Ohio’s Water Resources?

PHOTO: Picture of Seneca Lake. Courtesy Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water.
PHOTO: Picture of Seneca Lake. Courtesy Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water.
October 19, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Residents and conservationists in Ohio are expressing concerns that the thirst for fracking in their state will dry up water resources.

The shale gas drilling industry is acquiring sites in eastern parts of the state, with the number of wells expected to increase from around 80 to more than 2,300 in the next few years.

Paul Feezel, chair of the Carroll County Concerned Citizens, says around 5-million gallons of water are used each time a well is "fracked," and he fears that could devastate water resources in the state.

"If you think about the industry's quote that they are looking at this lasting 20 to 40 years, now all of a sudden you start looking at 100 billion to 200 billion gallons of water that will permanently be taken out of the water cycle."

Feezel says it could impact the amount of fresh water available for drinking, agriculture and recreational purposes. Outside of an active conservancy district, drillers have full rights to water sources on public lands and can pay property owners for access to their private sources. Companies just have to inform the state of their water source; there is no approval process.

Some proponents say the sale of public water could help struggling Ohio communities.

Some drilling companies have signed contracts with cities, paying them for access to drinking water reservoirs. And in southeast Ohio, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District recently decided to allow water sales from public reservoirs. Many property owners are outraged.

Lea Harper, founder of the Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water, says her group is proactive in protecting the water supply and feels the Conservancy District should be as well.

"And to do what we are doing, to watch for people who are dumping or flushing their brine trucks and taking water out of smaller streams and tributaries that feed the reservoirs, we could be much more effective."

Opponents and concerned citizens are holding a protest today (FRIDAY) before a Conservancy District meeting in New Philadelphia and then will rally at the Tuscarawas County Courthouse.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH