City asks for more study on fracking water proposal

Posted 9/10/19

Madisonville city council members Monday demurred on a proposal by MD America Energy to pull water from Lake Madison to use in hydraulic fracturing operations in the county, asking for more study on the long-term effects of the process.

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City asks for more study on fracking water proposal

Posted

Madisonville city council members Monday demurred on a proposal by MD America Energy to pull water from Lake Madison to use in hydraulic fracturing operations in the county, asking for more study on the long-term effects of the process.

Under the proposed agreement, MD America would take water from Lake Madison and transport it to fracking sites, refilling the lake with water from a well they would locate according to city directions. The city would receive a fee from MD America for the water used.

According to Mayor Bill Parten, who participated in initial discussions with the energy company, the lake would not be able to go down more than 12 inches, the city would be able to halt the removal of water during periods of low water and the company would be responsible for restocking any fish in the lake if the current stock is impacted.

“I don’t like the fact that you’re going to draw down Lake Madison, filling it back up again, drawing it down again, and so on,” said Russell Bailey, mayor pro tem. “I’m a fisherman and I can’t imagine that doesn’t do something to the fish.”

Robert Carter, land manager with MD America, explained that fracking operations would require about 400-500 barrels of water per well, or between 16,800 and 21,000 gallons of water.

A water well is not able to produce the necessary pressure for fracking operations, creating the need access to a large reservoir and a temporary transport line to each extraction site.

The company already pulls from other locations near its operations in North Zulch, but railroad crossings and other factors necessitate a water source around Madisonville.

The impact to Lake Madison created a lengthy discussion during Monday’s meeting, sparking as many questions as answers. The council eventually agreed to table the matter until its regular meeting in October, giving time for further study.

“I think we need time for more conversation and more discussion,” Bailey said.

In other matters, the council agreed to buy a boom mower attachment to help mow ditches around town, replacing an often out of repair boom mower that led the city’s Public Works Department to lease a mower in recent years. Council members also mulled a suggestion to hire two added seasonal workers for mowing in 2020, but tabled that part of the budget amendment until future needs are apparent.

Kevin Story, director of Public Works, told council members that Water Well No. 3, which has vexed the city since earlier this year, is nearing resolution of its electrical issues.

“We’re still experiencing a current underbalance,” Story said. But, he added, a new slow start mechanism and subsequent adjustment allows the well to be powered on without blowing fuses in the system.

Water Well No. 3 - which in addition to other uses, feeds the city’s Splash Pad attraction at Lake Madison Park – has had electrical problems since early this year, delaying the planned opening of the Splash Pad by weeks. The source of the problems confounded workers for months, but Story told the council Monday that they were related to electric provider Entergy, who will be making repairs to resolve the situation.

“There are still a few things we need to replace first, then Entergy will come out and replace the transformers,” he said.

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