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Officials propose injection-well ban

MONROE — The Monroe County Board of Commissioners is drafting an ordinance that would ban any injection wells in Monroe County near karst geology or Lake Erie.

Trendwell Energy Corp., with corporate offices in Rockford, Mich., has proposed a plan to drill a 765-foot-deep well near Ida Center Road and Alcott Road in Summerfield Township to inject saltwater.

Philip Goldsmith, legal adviser for the board, is working on a law that would comply with existing federal and state legislation.

“We don’t want anything injected back into the ground,” commissioner David Hoffman said. “They keep saying brine water, brine water, brine water. But it takes a lot of chemicals also. We have deep wells for agriculture. The main source of income is for produce, and if we get contamination in the produce, it would be devastating.”

An injection well places fluid deep underground into porous rock formations, such as limestone in Monroe County. The fluid may be water, brine water (also known as salt water), waste water, or water mixed with chemicals.

“Our biggest challenge in Monroe County is protecting our groundwater in a particularly vulnerable geology,” board chairman J. Henry Lievens said. “Monroe County is not only situated next to Lake Erie, but with our unique sinkholes and karst geology, it presents a challenge coupled with extensive agriculture.”

Related: Groups ask for federal review of Ohio injection-well program

Ned Birkey, educator emeritus at Michigan State University Extension, said there are more than 100 sinkholes in Monroe County.

Tests have been conducted at several sinkholes. Test strips and dyes were used and within a matter of hours, marks appeared in people’s tap water. Monroe County does not have an alternative source of drinking water.

“Nothing is certain, but it seems to be an unnecessary risk in this part of the state where there’s a high volume of agriculture, development, housing, manufacturing, roads, and railroads,” Mr. Birkey said.

Mr. Hoffman has testified twice before the Michigan State House of Representatives on House Bill 4694, which opposes placing wells in karst geology area. The bill is sponsored by State Rep. Jason Sheppard (R., Temperance).

Oil exploration companies lease mineral rights to hundreds of acres of land in Monroe County, leading officials to wonder how many wells would be dug if the company is given the green light to build.

The Summerfield Township ordinance prohibits placing any new wells in areas of karst geology or within 25 miles of a major body of water. Lake Erie sits 20 miles due east.

(c)2015 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

This article was written by Kyle Rowland from The Blade and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.