Dallas, TX – Fort Worth is considering a change in its gas drilling ordinance that would allow wastewater disposal wells within the City limits. KERA's Shelley Kofler says the issue is expected to draw heated debate during a public hearing tonight.
Millions of gallons for water are used for the hydraulic fracturing of a gas well, and the gas production that follows. Much of that water becomes contaminated with drilling chemicals and salt and is typically disposed of in deep underground wells.
Some five years ago Fort Worth banned drilling companies from locating the wastewater disposal wells within City limits. But the City is now proposing that moratorium be lifted.
City spokesman Jason Lamers says the wells would solve problems that come from transporting the toxic water.
Lamers: Truck traffic has been a continual issue from the very beginning with gas drilling. That truck traffic has a lot to do with shipping salt water outside of the City limits.
Lamers says the City would limit the wastewater wells to industrial areas, but a number of community groups say that's not enough to make the wells safe.
Gary Hogan of the North Central Texas Communities Alliance worries about ground water pollution and the safety of pipelines that would carry the wastewater to the wells.
Hogan: You know we have water main breaks all over Texas because our ground shifts so much. If we ever had one of these production water pipelines break like we have a water line break this toxic brew could go anywhere and it would literally sterilize the earth.
Hogan's group and the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods want the City to keep the moratorium on wastewater disposal wells in place while it looks at technology that could clean up and reuse the water.
The public has a chance to be heard on changes to the drilling ordinance at a City council meeting beginning at 7:00 pm Tuesday tonight. The Fort Worth Council is scheduled to adopt the changes next week.