Reporting Jason Allen
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - While many North Texans are being asked to conserve water during a statewide drought, three large pipelines are pulling millions of gallons of water out of the Trinity River in Fort Worth, near West Seventh Street.
The pipelines cross over several roads and trails in Trinity River Park. They were put into place just days before water restrictions are expected to shut off sprinklers in Fort Worth, leaving lawns to dry out.
“They’re just like big straws,” explained nearby resident Don Young, who has seen these pipelines before. “They just suck water from the river or lake or wherever.”
Where are the pipelines taking the water? Follow them past raised sidewalk sections and roadway crossings and you will end up at a natural gas well located just outside of Trinity River Park, operated by Chesapeake Energy.
According to the Trinity River Water District, the energy company is buying the water for fracking – three to four million gallons at double the wholesale rate.
There are currently no restrictions no how much water can be used by gas drillers, or any other commercial customers. “The fact of the matter is,” said Ed Ireland with the Barnett Shale Education Council, “these situations have been anticipated with state law that says here’s how you do it.”
During a water shortage, like Texas is seeing now, state statutes say that “the water to be distributed shall be divided among all customers … so that preference is given to no one and everyone suffers alike.”
The Trinity River Water District said that gas drilling accounts for only about one percent of their total water usage. Meanwhile, yard watering is estimated to use between 50 and 60 percent of what water is available.
However, critics argue, water used to saturate lawns makes its way back into the cycle to be used again very soon. This is not the case with fracking. “When gas drillers use water, it’s permanently removed from our cycle,” said Young. “There’s a finite amount of water on Planet Earth. Whenever you use it to frack, it has to go buried in the ground of a million years.”
The fracking at this Fort Worth site is expected to last about nine days. The city agreed to let the pipelines be laid across Trinity River Park as long as everything is cleaned up after the process is complete, and any damages are repaired.