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Encana to use 4 billion gallons of groundwater for fracking in Michigan

Bridge Magazine reports, “A Canadian firm – Encana Corp. – has laid out plans to drill 500 new natural gas wells in Northern Michigan, using a technique that could consume more than 4 billion gallons of groundwater — or about as much water as Traverse City uses in two years.” Earlier this month, Encana used 8.5 million gallons of groundwater to frack a single gas well, the Westerman in Kalkaska County, east of Traverse City. “Because most of the water used in fracking becomes contaminated and is left in geologic formations deep underground, a recent surge in drilling by Encana and other companies has raised concerns that fracking could drain water from some of the state’s best rivers.”

The article also notes, “Encana recently drilled several new wells into the Collingwood shale formation, which lies about two miles underground. That’s the first step in a plan to drill 500 more deep shale wells in the region using fracking, according to company records. The company’s plan to drill several new gas wells near Kalkaska will entail pumping about 300 million gallons of water out of the ground, injecting that water into several gas well bores and then leaving nearly all of the contaminated water in the ground when the fracking is completed, according to state records. The result: A net loss of up to 300 million gallons of groundwater to the North Branch of the Manistee River.”

“David Hyndman, a hydrogeologist, professor and chairman of MSU’s Department of Geological Sciences, (says) many of the Collingwood shale gas wells are being drilled in the ecologically fragile headwater areas of rivers; headwater streams are critically important to the health of entire river systems; and the state does little monitoring in headwater streams, where rivers originate.”

The Manistee River is directly connected to Lake Michigan, which is a Great Lake. Council of Canadians national water campaigner Emma Lui will be meeting with water justice allies in Michigan this summer and plans to observe the Manistee River site.

“Since 2008, the DEQ has issued 52 permits for large, fracking-related water withdrawals. Another 17 permits are pending, according to state data.”