Officials of Wales, a town east of Buffalo, said on January 26 that they will try to develop local legislation to block hydrofracking in industrial natural gas drilling efforts.
The officials said their water rights could be impinged if the mining harms the quality of the water they receive.
Fracking, which has been under attack in much of the oil shale country of the Northeast, has been defined as “a process that results in the creation of fractures in rocks. The most important industrial use is in stimulating oil and gas wells, where hydraulic fracturing has been used for over 60 years in more than one million wells.”
A group of seven west New York cities, villages and towns said in mid-February they are just about ready to press for a joint municipal water supply through regional transmission lines from Lake Erie.
The seven communities will seek to join the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation, and seek a $400,000 development grant.
The seven are Dunkirk (city and town, which are separate entities), Portland, Sheridan, Pomfret, Fredonia, and Brockton. The lead applicant was designated as the city of Dunkirk.
[see the Dunkirk (NY) Observer, February 16]
The New York Supreme Court appears on track to resolve a question – prompted by a lower court decision – about the criteria used to limit water draws from a Mohawk Valley reservoir.
Water from the Hinckley Reservoir historically has been drawn by the Mohawk Valley Water Authority. But in a decision in May, state Supreme Court Justice Samuel Hester delivered an opinion saying the authority could continue to obtain that much water – but not more, which is what it had sought.
The contract covering draws of water from the reservoir dates to early in the 20th century, and may be reviewed. So may patterns of water use in the area.
He wrote that the district’s basic use of water should require flows of about 35 feet per cubic second. The district, which is seeking to expand its operations, had requested more than double that.
The water authority said in July that it planned to appeal the decision, and so might at least three other parties.
[Utica (NY) Observer-Dispatch, July 17]
The New York Times reports on the water rights (and quality) implication of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, a massive deposit of gas buried in the Appalachian Mountains.
In an editorial on the subject: “Retrieving Marcellus natural gas requires hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling, a process that shoots millions of gallons of water deep underground to break the rock and unlock the gas. Now that prospectors are using this process increasingly in Pennsylvania and hoping to begin soon in New York, there are two important questions: Where will all that water come from? And what happens to it when it is no longer needed?”
The paper advised that drilling should not be allowed near drinking water supplies, but indicated it could work with proper care and exploration.
The International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States on March 28, released for public comment a proposed new Order of Approval and a proposed new plan, called Plan 2007, for regulating the flows through the Moses-Saunders Dam between Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York. The regulation affects water levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River downstream to Trois-Rivières.
For nearly 50 years, the Commission has regulated levels and flows of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River as far as Trois-Rivières. In addition to the economic benefits from hydroelectric power and the St. Lawrence Seaway, regulation has provided benefits, by reducing the occurrence of extreme high and low water levels, which annually average (in value) $28.5 million to shoreline property owners and $3.5 million to recreational boaters. Plan 2007 would provide $5.5 million in new benefits on average each year.
“We are releasing Plan 2007 and a proposed new Order for public comment today because we believe they are the best that can be implemented at this time. The Commission must consider the requirements of the Treaty for protection and indemnification of interests that may be injured by the project. It also must consider the goals of the two federal governments when the project was developed which included providing benefits to Lake Ontario shoreline owners and protecting interests downstream,” said Irene Brooks, Chair of the U.S. Section of the Commission.
Compared to the current plan (Plan 58-D with deviations), Plan 2007 provides better results for key environmental performance indicators, while maintaining or improving protections for all other interests. The other interests include shoreline property, recreational boating, commercial navigation, hydroelectric power generation and water supply.
It also provides the flexibility to shift from Plan 2007 to a plan with additional environmental improvements, whenever adequate mitigation measures could be implemented. Measures that have been implemented elsewhere include enhanced shoreline protection or dredging of harbours. The proposed new Order, for the first time, will regulate flows to benefit the environment and recreational boating along with the other interests named above.
Washington Frank Bevacqua 202-736-9024; Ottawa Greg McGillis 613-947-1420