TARRANT COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – An old quarry, turned lake, in Dalworthington Gardens isn’t big by any measure but residents say it’s always been deep. There are stories of cars disappearing into it, and horses that wade in only to be surprised by deep holes. So when Cindy Noonan saw someone in the middle of Lake Pappy Elkins this spring, with the water at his knees, she knew something was off.
“That’s when I really knew how desperate the situation was,” she said. And she didn’t believe the current drought explained it.
Noonan and a small group of residents have now formed the Pappy Elkins Restoration Group. Signs in their front yards point others to their growing website. It’s filled with documents questioning if the lake’s demise, has anything to do with a gas drilling rig that has had permission to operate on the northern shore line since 2009. They have attended city council meetings. They have asked for explanations. So far though, they aren’t satisfied with the answers.
“Right now we can’t get them to listen to us,” said Tim Lamun. “We can’t get them to calmly relax and listen to the facts that we believe that we have, whether they’re right or wrong at this point.”
The group has found a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It gave XTO Energy permission in late 2009 to use lake water for drilling, for up to a year. Then in August of 2010, the city wrote a letter of permission to XTO, to take water for the next three years. TCEQ could not say if there was ever a permit, or if XTO took water during that time. A spokesman said last week the agency is currently investigating.
XTO did not return calls. Dalworthington Gardens mayor Michael Tedder said he believed the claims were inaccurate, but would not answer questions on the phone or in person, saying he would only answer questions submitted via email. Other council members and the city administrator also did not respond.
When XTO received its permit in 2009 though, it only came after receiving letters of permission from the city and three other landowners. Alvin Goerdel, who has lived by the lake since 1969, is one of those owners. XTO paid him to use the water, and he says hes not aware of anything being used since.
“That’s the only time XTO’s used any water out of that lake as far as I know and I’d know because they’d have to contact me to get that water,” he said.
As far as the lake depth, Goerdel shook his head at concerns it’s too low. Kids used to get cars stuck in the mud there when it was really low, he said.
This summer, there are no pumps on the lake for more wells being drilled. Instead a large portable tank, surrounded by barbed wire, is being filled from city hydrants. It sits on the city baseball field, and may be there through July.
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