Lisbon facing water decision

LISBON – Village Council may soon be asked to decide whether it wants to allow Willow Grove Park to be used by a drilling company seeking access to water from the Middle Fork of the Little Beaver Creek.

Council President Roger Gallo reported last week being given a sample lease agreement by the Hilcorp Energy Corp., which plans to drill a horizontal well on the Ramsey farm just west of the park in Center Township.

A Hilcorp official met with council in September to say they wanted to secure a right-of-way agreement from the village to run pipeline across the surface of the property to get at the creek. The company intends to pump water from the creek and across the park to the well site, where it would be used as part of the drilling process.

The proposed lease is for 300 feet at $3 per foot, or $900, and would only be for several months.

Pete Conkle from the Columbiana County Water and Sewer Conservation District, who was at the meeting on another matter, told council anyone is allowed to remove up to 100,000 gallons of water per day from a stream or creek without a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He said each drilling site can accommodate six to eight wells, and it takes millions of gallons of water to hydraulic fracture each well to release the gas captured in the shale deposits.

“How does that affect our creek?” asked Village Solicitor Virginia Barborak.

“That is a concern at Soil and Water,” Conkle said, especially if the water withdrawals are occurring during droughts. “It could very well hurt the ecology of the stream,” although it has not been a problem yet, he said.

This is not the first time Beaver Creek has been used as part of the drilling process. Chesapeake Exploration obtained state permits in 2012 to withdraw water from the west, middle and north forks of the Little Beaver Creek, portions of which are designated a state and national scenic river.

Barborak will review the proposed lease agreement and come back with a version for council to consider.

Gallo said he also asked Hilcorp if they were interested in leasing village property for oil and gas development, and the official told him they are no longer doing that at this time.