Muskingum Watershed Halts Sales To Drillers

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Officials overseeing reservoirs in Ohio's largest contained watershed have decided to halt water sales to oil and gas drillers in response to environmental concerns as they await a water-availability study.

Environmentalists and others raised concerns about the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) selling water to drillers. It's used in the process of hydraulic fracturing, which injects millions of gallons of chemical-laced water into the earth at high pressure to free gas.
Conservancy district executive director John Hoopingarner says it's in the public's interest to stop the water sales until the district updates its policy on the matter.
"We also want to stress that our mission is clear that the MWCD must review and address water supply requests that are presented to the conservancy district," Hoopingarner said. "However, given the current and future conditions that exist related to the oil and gas industry in the Muskingum River Watershed, we are taking these very deliberate steps to ensure that we have complete and accurate information, along with input from key stakeholders and the public, to make informed and effective decisions in the future."
The Ohio Environmental Council praised the decision, saying more research and public comment is needed.
The district plans to honor its one previously approved sale of 11 million gallons from Clendening Lake in Harrison County to Gulfport Energy Company.
Three other long-term contracts exist, but none relates to oil and gas drilling.  The Village of Cadiz, the City of Cambridge and Carroll County each hold agreements with the MWCD for water supply.  Hoopingarner says the district has fielded about a dozen other requests for water service, but all requests will be held until after the studies are conducted.