Drillers Put On Notice; PSC Cracking Down on Fire Hydrant
10 June 2012
By Casey Junkins, Staff Writer
MOUNDSVILLE - Frackers beware: the Public Service Commission of
West Virginia is warning you to stop draining water from fire
hydrants for use in natural gas drilling operations.
"It's just helter skelter out here," said George Lagos, general
manager and chief operator for Marshall County Public Service
District No. 4, which serves a large area of the county between
Moundsville and Cameron. "They just stop wherever to get water."
Commission officials note they have received complaints from
northern West Virginia about "truckers" - presumably working as
subcontractors for drilling companies - allegedly taking water
from fire hydrants without approval from local water utilities.
Commission information states the truckers reportedly hauled the
water for use at natural gas drilling and fracking sites.
No particular drilling company or subcontractor is mentioned, but
companies operating in the area stretching from Hancock County in
the north to Marion County in the south include Chesapeake Energy,
Chevron, Gastar Exploration, EQT Corp., Trans Energy, CNX Gas
Corp., Magnum Hunter and Stone Energy Corp.
"These takings come at the expense of the local water utility and
its customers. If enough of a revenue shortfall is created, the
water utility customers will have to make up the expense through
an increase in rates," the commission states.
Lagos said he knows subcontractors are taking water from hydrants
in Marshall County.
"We have been trying to catch them," he said. "They want the water
so they can spray it on the roads."
According to West Virginia Code, anyone who takes water without
the knowledge of the owner and while attempting to evade payment
can face misdemeanor charges. Penalties can range from a $2,000
fine to a full year jail sentence.
"If anyone sees someone out doing this we ask them to call us to
report it," added Lagos, noting his office's phone number is
To report someone taking water from a fire hydrant, one could also
call the commission office in Charleston at 304-340-0300.
DEP 'keeps you in dark' about spills, officials say