Commentary by Dave Partington
Recently, Protect Geauga Parks learned that the City of Akron was intending to lease the mineral rights under the 475 acre LaDue Reservoir in southern Geauga County for the purpose of horizontal gas and oil well drilling. This practice is commonly called fracking. PGP went to work coordinating efforts with Geauga, Summit, Portage and Cuyahoga County environmental and community organizations and individuals to oppose the lease agreement. As a result of research and coordination efforts with many organizations and individuals, the city of Akron has withdrawn its proposal to lease the property.
Akron City mayor Dan Horrigan issued a press release saying in part,
“I have heard people’s concerns both from inside and outside of Akron and have decided to withdraw the LaDue oil and gas proposal from the Akron City Council agenda at this time.” A concerning phrase in that statement is “at this time.“
Horrigan also said, “I’m also troubled about the misinformation used to stir up community concern, when our primary objective is to safeguard the health, economic mobility, and safety of our residents.”
It’s pretty clear that Horrigan was not happy to withdraw the proposal.
It is also clear that he does not clearly understand the risks that hydraulic fracturing pose to groundwater. The city of Akron draws its water from LaDue and nearby Lake Rockwell. Townships in Portage County and southern Geauga County near the reservoir rely on water wells to provide residential and local commercial water.
Accidents or spills could impact not only Akron’s drinking water, but households surrounding LaDue. The cost of cleaning up a spill of toxic drilling wastes far exceeds the $237,500 that Akron would receive for leasing the property.
As a result of the coordinated efforts of individuals and organizations to inform the Akron City Council of this dangerous and unwise leasing proposal, opposition grew. At last week’s Akron City Council meeting over 100 people spoke in opposition to the proposal. Both the Portage and Geauga County League of Women Voters issued statements opposing the leasing.
Victory however may be temporary and Horrigan may try to re-introduce the proposal. Horrigan said that the city “would exercise tight control over the project.” That statement is likely not correct. By law localities have little control over gas well drilling. That control is exercised by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
So this project may resurface at a later time.
It is because of watchful eyes of many Protect Geauga Parks supporters who alerted us to this danger. Thanks to them for their efforts, information and for contacting the Akron city Council. And thank you to our supporters for keeping a watchful eye on Geauga County. Let us know if you hear things that are amiss.