Drilling and fracking debate firing up in Lewisville

- Gas and oil leases for some land on Lewisville Lake are about to be auctioned off by the federal government.

Monday night, council members joined a growing list of local governmental agencies opposing any oil and gas drilling on the shore of and under Lewisville Lake. It’s a source of drinking water for millions and a lake with a problem dam.

The council’s action was unanimous and without debate.

It authorizes a letter to the Federal Bureau of Land Management protesting plans by BLM to auction the rights to drill for oil and gas on 259 acres of Army Corps land on Lewisville Lake. The lake provides drinking water to Dallas and more than two dozen surrounding cities.

BLM has already received protest letters from Dallas Water Utilities and the City of Highland Village on the northwest portion of the lake where the drilling would be done. That’s where there are concerns that fracking could contaminate drinking water and cause earthquakes. Many residents do not trust industry assertions that it would not.

“I live right down the street and sometimes our water tastes like lake water so I'm just worried we could get contaminated water here,” resident Kristin Sessions said.

Heavy rains exposed problems with the Lewisville Lake's dam and earlier this winter produced a 160-foot landslide.

It's listed as the 8th most dangerous dam in the country by the Army Corps of Engineers. Despite assurances the problems can and will be fixed, there is no imminent danger of a collapse.

Any threat of seismic activity from hydraulic fracturing has also become a growing public concern.

“From what I've seen in Irving and the other areas like Irving with all the earthquakes I really don't want it in our area,” Dale Whitney said.

There is no conclusive evidence it has caused a spike in earthquakes, including places like Irving.

“The constituents are concerned but there's a lot of misinformation floating around,” Councilman Neil Ferguson said. “My major concern is risk to the water and primarily it would be either from runoff from the well that's the result of human error or equipment failure.”

Looming over it all is what happened in Denton. Voters there passed a no-fracking ordinance only to have lawmakers in Austin step in and tell them they had no authority to do so.

The BLM auction is scheduled to happen April 20 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

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