WELLSVILLE - Competition for business from local shale gas drilling operations has resulted in a lower bulk rate for current and potential customers of the Buckeye Water District.
During a brief special meeting held Thursday afternoon at the BWD treatment plant on state Route 45, the district's board of trustees approved a new bulk rate of $5 per thousand gallons for raw water from the Ohio River. The untreated water, while not suitable for consumption, is acceptable for the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations used in gas extraction wells.
The bulk price for treated, potable water will remain at $15 per thousand gallons.
Trustee Tim O'Hara raised questions about whether the provision should include a minimum purchase amount in order to receive the bulk rate. Board Chairman Mike Ryan replied that it shouldn't be issue. "One thing about Chesapeake, and we've dealt with them a number of times, is they won't give you a minimum," Ryan said. O'Hara stated that his concern was more with people trying to cheaply buy a few hundred gallons of raw water, not the millions demanded by drillers. Ryan was skeptical that would ever occur.
"If you only want 500 gallons, you better take your bilge pump and go down to the creek," he said.
Jack Call, chairman of the rate study committee, said that if a driller, such as Chesapeake Energy, were to sign a contract with BWD at the new rate, the district would require that company to set up a pipeline and pumping area out by the facility's entrance off Route 45, at the driller's cost, as a provision of their contract. This step would be taken to prevent weight damage to the paved section of the plant's entry road from the water tanker trucks after they're fully loaded. The district would require separate pumping areas for each new bulk water customer signed on, at the company's cost, for exclusive use by their tanker trucks at the facility.
In other business, trustees also approved a proposal from the board's computer study and purchase committee for the purchase of four new Dell computers, including pertinent software packages, from the Ridgefield Group in Steubenville. Before the vote, Al DeAngelis reminded trustees that the current computer equipment dates from 2003 and was quickly becoming obsolete. Although a quote of $7,600 was received from Ridgefield, trustees agreed to budget "not more than $8,000" for the purchase on the advice of committee member Roy Dray. "They cut that [price estimate] kind of tight, I think," he said.