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Manager gives update on groundwater district

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bob Patterson shared a drop in the bucket of information about the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (UTGCD) at Monday’s county commissioners meeting.

Patterson, manager of UTGCD, said the organization was created by the legislature in 2007 to register water wells and control drilling of new water wells. The district includes not only Wise County, but also Hood, Parker and Montague counties.

Patterson said UTGCD registered 822 wells in 2012, down slightly from 991 in 2011.

“We’re down 169 total wells in 2012 as a result of the oil and gas slowdown,” he said. “… there’s also not been much advancement in subdivisions in Wise County.”

Patterson said the UTGCD was the first water district to be given authority over oil and gas use by the legislature.

“Initially that didn’t make us real popular, but they’ve gotten on board and we work with them daily,” he said.

The district estimates that it takes 4.5 million gallons of water for one frack job in the Barnett Shale and more than twice that amount for a frack job in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.

“That’s a function of the deeper wells, and the geology is vastly different,” Patterson said. “Fracking issues have become premier in the media, and EPA is stepping in on all fronts and watching the use on hydraulic fracturing, especially here in Wise County.”

He explained that they work with oil and gas companies to encourage recycling water and desalination of water to be used in fracking.

“Essentially, we’re trying to reduce the amount of fresh water used,” Patterson said. “That will be an ongoing process.”

He told commissioners they have a “major public outreach” that involves advertising and a mobile education exhibit that represents a working aquifer. Patterson said they take it to seventh-grade classes in 27 school districts in the area. He said they also show students how hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and injection wells work.

In other business, commissioners:

  • accepted an offer of a quitclaim deed from Richard Pietila for a 30-foot wide strip of property totaling .292 acres in the Delta Ranch Estates Subdivision in Precinct 2,
  • approved the final plat for Pietila Five Addition, lots 1-6 in Precinct 1, and
  • accepted a bid from Pietila for property struck from the Wise County tax rolls in the Northwest School District.

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