Plan in place to sell city water for natural gas drilling process

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CUMBERLAND — The city of Cumberland has an agreement in place with Samson Resources, Meyersdale, Pa., that would allow the city to potentially supply up to 20,000 gallons per day of treated effluent water from the wastewater treatment plant to Samson to assist with test drilling involving natural gas extraction.

Even though the order authorizing the activity was approved last August, both Mayor Brian Grim and City Administrator Jeff Repp said no water has yet been sold for the hydrofracking process.

“There is a mechanism currently in place that could potentially allow for the city to do so (sell water for hydrofracking), but no decision to engage in sales and no permits or requests have been received for that purpose,” said Grim.

“There has been no movement since the agreement was put in place and it does not involve the purchase of potable drinking water,” said Repp.

The treated water is not being used for anything, according to Grim.

According to the water agreement, Samson would be responsible for hauling the water, maintaining liability insurance and all operating and capital costs. There would be no costs incurred by the city.

“If a company were to approach the city and the mayor and City Council agreed, then a water purchase agreement would be developed for their approval,” said Repp.

“In the past two years since I have been with the council there has been no interset from anyone in the water,” said Grim.

From April to October 2009, the city of Frostburg sold raw water from the Piney?Dam?Reservoir to Samson Resources. The sales totaled 3,664,490 gallons, with no more than 125,000 gallons withdrawn from the reservoir on any single day. At $5 per 1,000 gallons of raw water, the total received was $18,322. The city also has an agreement with Samson to sell raw water for additional wells if permits are issued.

“As of recent, the city of Frostburg has not been approached by any other firm seeking to purchase water for natural gas exploration nor has the city solicited any sales,” according to a previous statement from the city. “The city has taken no steps to seek proposals for leases on city-owned land for exploration and has no intention of doing so,” the statement continued.

In response to Frostburg residents’ concerns about hydrofracking, Frostburg City Administrator John Kirby reiterated Thursday that there are still no plans for leasing land for gas exploration.

Nationwide, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Marcellus shale hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” Fracking is a process that uses a mixture of sand, water and chemicals to blast the natural gas out of rock.

Citizens and lawmakers alike are concerned about the possibility of the wastewater byproduct, which contains a small number of compounds such as benzene, ethylene glycol and naphthalenereams that could find their way into water supplies and have been linked to negative health effects at certain exposure levels.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .