LEWISVILLE, Texas (AP) — Some North Texas cities and environmental groups have asked federal officials to halt plans to allow gas drilling under a lake that’s a drinking water source for millions and has a dam cited by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as being in hazardous condition.
As many as 259 acres are up for auction for natural gas leases at Lewisville Lake, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Nearby residents fear possible drinking water contamination and earthquakes that could further threaten stability.
Protesters want the BLM to remove the property from an April 20 auction in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and commission a new environmental study of gas drilling.
“These direct impacts from oil and gas activities have not been adequately studied and represent an unacceptable level of risk to DWU,” director of Dallas Water Utilities Jody Puckett wrote in a letter to BLM. Dallas Water Utilities provides drinking water to 2.4 million people in the city and surrounding communities.
But Ed Ireland, the executive director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, told the Dallas Morning News that there has been extensive gas drilling in Texas — including under Lewisville Lake — with no evidence of drinking water contamination.
“There have been already over a dozen wells drilled, drilled and fracked in the Lake Lewisville area,” he said. “The proposal is nothing new. Drilling wells around Lake Lewisville has been done before successfully, without problems.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lists the Lake Lewisville dam as the nation’s eighth most hazardous. Federal officials said the dam needs $50 million to $500 million in repairs, but that it isn’t an immediate danger.
Well sites would have to be 3,000 feet away from infrastructure including the dam. Drill sites must be at least 1,000 feet from the water when the lake is full.
Repairs continue following a 160-foot landslide at the dam along Dallas-area Lewisville Lake.