Protecting a precious water supply reservoir ought to be enough for the Railroad Commission to reject a request from Tulsa’s BlueStone Natural Resources II to drill a waste water disposal well on the western edge of Lake Arlington.
The lake provides drinking water for Arlington, Bedford, Colleyville, Euless, Grapevine, North Richland Hills and, through the Tarrant Regional Water District, other cities including Fort Worth.
“If there is any potential to put that dam and our water supply in jeopardy, that is a bad idea,” says Walter “Buzz” Pishkur, director of Arlington’s water utilities.
There is such danger. The Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry in Texas, should recognize it. Caution calls for denying BlueStone’s permit request.
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Natural gas wells produce millions of gallons of brackish water and toxic waste. The purpose of BlueStone’s injection well would be to collect that dangerous stuff from the company’s gas wells in the area and dispose of it deep underground.
Leaks, a failure of well integrity or earthquakes caused by high-pressure injection could all endanger Lake Arlington.
But history shows that the Railroad Commission is an exceedingly friendly regulator. If there is any angle from which the three commissioners can see BlueStone’s request in a favorable light, they’re likely to approve it.
Fort Worth and Arlington have objected. The Railroad Commission has set a May 24 hearing for an administrative law judge to hear arguments from all sides.
In case protecting the drinking water for thousands of people is not enough, the cities have other objections.
House Bill 40, approved by the Legislature two years ago, gives cities the right, within limits, to control above-ground activities of oil and gas drillers.
Fort Worth has plans for developments on the west side of Lake Arlington. An industrial use like the injection well would make the land less attractive.
House Bill 40 gives cities even more power to enforce restrictions that have been in effect for at least five years. Fort Worth has blocked injection wells within the city limits since 2006.
Finally, BlueStone can haul the waste water from its gas wells to disposal wells elsewhere. That’s how it’s done for every other gas well in Fort Worth.