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Fracking Further Draining Drought-Stricken Lake Benbrook

BENBROOK (CBSDFW.COM) – The expectation among marina owners is that the docks are going to sit on water, and that they won’t have to mow their boat slips.

But at Lake Benbrook, where water levels remain at record lows, business owners and lake visitors are wondering where it all went.

“It’s normally 12 feet where we’re standing,” said Ron Rogers, whose 166 boat slips are usually 90 percent full at this time of year.

Rogers started pulling boats out in July. But eight owners didn’t make it in time: The lake is now down 17 feet from its normal level, shattering the previous record low set in Jan. 2006.

Those eight boats are stuck in the dirt where they were previously tied up.

The crippling drought and evaporation are partly to blame. But the city of Weatherford has pumped three quarters of a billion gallons out of the lake to fill Lake Weatherford, and a gas company drains the lake to aid in hydraulic fracturing.

“I don’t know who’s getting paid for that, but I know we’re not,” Rogers said. “I know we’re losing massive amounts of money every day.”

A pump line leads toward natural gas wells that are operated by Devon Energy – two of a planned 34 in the area – that use up to 3 million gallons of lake water when they frack for gas.

It was one of the first things Michael Herbert noticed when he brought his nephew out to fish.

“Why would they be pumping water out of here?” He asked. “Everybody’s on water restrictions except, apparently, the oil companies.”

Some businesses have already had to give up. Areas that used to be marinas have dried up. Cows now graze in the south end of the lake. Parts of the lake that housed boats for 13 years are now empty; the owner had to quit.

Rogers is hoping he can outlast the shrinking lake. He depends on water, but has recently started trying to give away all his new dirt to deepen the marina, in case water levels never return to what they were.

“We’re having to have money come out of our pocket every month,” he said.

Tarrant Regional Water District officials said the water use is legal, and Devon said it is in constant contact with the department and uses recycled water to frack when it can.

  • NiteNurse

    I’m not sure we should have fracking when there’s a major drought in the area. Shouldn’t we suspend it for a while at least until there is some decent rainfall?

    • kevin

      That would make sense!

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  • RR Worker

    Don’t let this story fool you, I drove over the flood gates at the east end of the dam on last Friday and they were open, letting water run down the Trinity toward downtown Ft. Worth. I’d bet it was at least 10 million gallons an hour being released, but for who and why? 1-3 million gallons for one well is but a drop in the bucket compared to what can be released from the flood gates in a very short period of time.

    • Jerry

      The reason that water is beting let out of the flood gates is to supply the water plant with water. That fork of the Trinity River flows to the water treatment plant for drinking water. It’s not just flowing down the Trinity for no reason.

      • SinTexas

        The other problem with this is that the water is unusable now. It would cost too much to purify the water that is being used for fracking. At least the water being released into the Trinity will be used for human consumption.

  • Rebecca Cornish

    Thank you for you stories about the drilling in Grand Prairie and Arlington. I have questions in reference to both cities. Has either city charged more for water or services during the summer or since the drought? Do they believe based on the gallons of water being used by the fracking, that fracking is causing the need for rationing? If both answers are yes, why are the increase in charges being passed on to the general population and not directly to Chesapeak? Where is the water which is no longer recyclible, after being used in fracking, stored?

    • Miolea Farm

      Hydrolic Fracking, as invented and patented by Haliburton, uses known carconingenic chemicals in it’s patented process to push through the Marcellus Shale. Help with the fight.

      • Ryan

        Hydraulic Fracturing is not just used buy Halliburton. It is used by alot of other companies across the world. Not just in he marcellus shale play, located in the north eastern united states. O&G companies work hard with EPA to mark sure any hazards stay in the hole and are not realeased, and never will be released to water zones. Do your research before talking, cause you havent a clue.

    • SinTexas

      Good questions Rebecca. I saw a news clip last night on channel 8. Didn’t really answer those questions. I’d like to know who is allowing this to happen at the city? Someone that has much to gain is my assumption.

  • Rachel

    The most thoughtful comment from Rebecca-

    Jason, can you answer her questions and will you stay with this story or just drop it.

    Seriously, the Oil and Gas industry is super rich, we provide their revenue when paying for our consumption. Do we have to give them water too and for free?

  • Mekhong Kurt

    Oh, the companies doing the fracking aren’t causing any trouble, none whatsoever.

    After all, they say so!

  • Been There, Done That

    You people better get used to it, because there isn’t a thing you can do about it. Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy have been raping rural Oklahoma for years now. They have the money to do whatever they want to do, regardless of their impact on the environment. You can’t fight them…believe me, we’ve tried.

  • bas

    i have been a fan of benbrook lake most of my life. the corp of engineers never cease to amaze me with thier misuse. if they would keep the water in and promote fishing and camping better it would be a major player in the money generation for benbrook and surounding areas. at a time when folks cannot afford to go to other areas to camp and fish. a total waste of a fishery and a boating access. the lake with its continued missuse will turn it into a lake worth in a short time. shame on everyone involved in that process.

  • jerry cook

    Fracking is an easy culprit to blame for the lake declining but something else is very obvious and nobody wants to touch it. It is the Trinity Project, the drought has been bad this year and anyone who has lived in this area for a number of years, knows the Trinity River suffers from drought conditions too. But not this year, its levels has been up and at least two people have drown in it. Has anyone noticed by chance they now have a Wake Board park on the NorthSide, This can only be possible at the expense of Lake Benbrook, But as I said no one wants to report this angle!

  • Liza

    Greed kiills. Keep fracking and TX will dry up and blow away. Can’t understand the drill, baby, drill crowd. Destroy the land, air and water supply. Oh, well, I suppose there is oil to drink and methane to breathe. Hope the money was worth it.

    • Mekhong Kurt

      Isn’t THAT the truth!

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