Letter: Approach Providing Services to Fracking with Caution
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Portage County's plans for a bulk water station to provide water for hydraulic fracturing gas producers should be approached with caution.
The primary concern should be, "How much water is available through the existing system?" A news article Dec. 2 said, "The drilling company needs up to a million gallons ... per well." In fact, a deep well to the Utica shale may need 5 million gallons, and land leased for gas drilling in Portage County may involve up to 800 wells, which calculates to 4 trillion gallons. This is the amount that should be compared to the total volume of water that Portage County's existing water system is designed to produce per year at maximum output, less the amount presently used for current non-drilling customers.
A secondary concern should be the statement, "We'll have a location they can come out and get water at any time." This suggests a vision of a continuous line of tanker trucks (manufactured at the new MAC facility in Kent) idling through the night for their turns to load up water to transport to wellheads throughout Northern Ohio. One imagines that if Portage County water is bargain-priced and available 24/7, it will be transported off to drill wells in Trumbull and Stark counties.
Another concern is the price structure. It seems counter-productive to price water, that is not limitlessly available, so that the more a customer uses, the less it costs per unit. This encourages waste and penalizes the residential customer and local business which attempts to use its water wisely and sparingly. At the very least, the cost per gallon should not decrease when the volume purchased is greater. It would seem reasonable to increase the cost per gallon as the usage increases because increased use initially causes a strain on the system and ultimately requires expenses for maintenance and capital improvements to the water system.
It should not be expected that the residents and long-time business users should bear the cost of increasing system capacity to service the drilling industry throughout Ohio.
Member, Kent Environmental Council