Gas Drilling and Dallas’ Water Supply

Gas drilling is slowly creeping into the Dallas area and as I said nearly three years ago, I continue to be concerned about the possible environmental and health dangers associated with this industry.

Recent news has highlighted the dangers of gas drilling and drinking water contamination:

XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, is under investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) after a 13,000 gallon hydraulic fracturing fluid spill at XTO Energy’s natural gas drilling site in Penn Township, Lycoming County, PA.

The spill was first discovered last week by a DEP inspector who found a valve had been left open on a 21,000-gallon fracking fluid tank, discharging fluid off the well pad into local waterways, threatening a nearby cattle herd that had to be fenced off from the contaminated pasture. Exxon/XTO has not provided an explanation on why the valve was left open

“This spill was initially estimated at more than 13,000 gallons by the company and has polluted an unnamed tributary to Sugar Run and a spring,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Nels Taber. “There are also two private drinking water wells in the vicinity that will be sampled for possible impacts.”

DEP’s sampling confirmed elevated levels of conductivity and salinity in the spring and unnamed tributary, clear indications that the fracking fluid was present in the waterways.

The Huffington Post, Nov. 22, 2010

XTO has requested several drilling permits from the City of Dallas, and I agree with Dallas City Councilmember Neumann that we need to defer these requests until an independent taskforce can fully vet the safety issues involved.

More immediately troubling, however, is that a company named Keystone wants a variance from the Town of Flower Mound to drill less than 500 feet from Lake Grapevine, a source for Dallas’ drinking water:

Dallas Water Utilities officials are concerned about contamination over a request to drill for natural gas beside Grapevine Lake in Flower Mound.

The lake is a major drinking water source for The City of Dallas, Highland Park, Grapevine and other customers of Dallas Water Utilities including Flower Mound.

Flower Mound rules forbid drilling within 500 feet of an environmentally sensitive area.

A variance request pending with the Town of Flower Mound asks to allow drilling much closer in this case.

“It’s all in the drainage area that goes into Lake Grapevine,” said Dallas Water Utilities Assistant Director Charles Stringer.

“So it’s of concern to us whether it’s one foot or 500 feet. And we just don’t want to see any brine or any other waste products coming from the well, entering in the water supply. That’s our main concern,” Stringer said.

Gas wells dot the western side of The Metroplex but Stringer said this is the first one proposed so close to a City of Dallas drinking water reservoir.

Ken Kaltoff, NBC5, Nov. 25, 2010

As noted by DallasDrilling.com, a public hearing will be held on Wednesday, December 15th at 6:30 p.m. before the Town of Flower Mound Oil and Gas Board of Appeals.  Keystone has requested numerous variances from current regulations, including its proximity to Lake Grapevine and its location in a FEMA floodplain.

I plan to attend the meeting, and have asked city staff to take whatever steps necessary to protect Dallas’ water supply.

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Tom Thumb Reopens on Inwood at University

This morning, the brand new Tom Thumb grocery store on Inwood at University (re)opened after being demolished and rebuilt this summer. The former Simon David has been dramatically improved, with a bright, fresh interior, a Starbucks, and a new parking lot with pedestrian-friendly lighting and landscaping.

The grocer considered closing the aging store, but instead decided to reinvest in the area with a new store, built with significant input from the community. When the zoning request for the project came forward, I ensured that the new construction responded to the needs and concerns of the surrounding neighbors, including making sure that the parking lot lighting did not shine into nearby homes, that the project was well-landscaped, that the truck delivery area was on University (not Robin Road), and that the back of the store and the adjacent lots were well-landscaped along the newly-curved Robin Road.

As you can see from the pictures below, Tom Thumb lived up to these standards and more. The store is a great new asset for the neighborhood and provides a much-needed service for residents.

Snyder’s Union on Katy Trail Opens

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Today the Friends of the Katy Trail, along with trail users, neighbors, city councilmembers, and city staff, celebrated the opening of a new plaza/overlook at Carlisle Place.

After several years of planning, Snyder’s Union is now a reality thanks to the generosity of Bobbi and Dick Snyder. The plaza commemorates the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary and they were on hand with their family for the grand opening.

The Friends of the Katy Trail worked with the city, me, Inland America (responsible for the project at Lemmon at Cole), and the North Central Texas Council of Governments to create a ped- and bike-friendly entrance to the trail.

Happy Veterans Day

This morning, the Dallas City Council joined service men and women to celebrate Veterans Day with a parade in Downtown.  We also got to enjoy fighter jet fly over in honor of our military personnel and their sacrifices.

My dad who passed away two years ago was a Marine during the Korean War, and he was famous for his “war stories” — some were funny, some were sad, but all of them revealed my dad’s love for his country and his brother Marines.  There was nothing he was more proud of than his service in the United States Marine Corps.

We lost my step-dad Leon earlier this year, and he was a veteran of WWII.  At barely seventeen, he lied about his age so he could join the Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He would tear up telling me about his battleship, the U.S.S. Henley, which sank after being attacked by Japanese bombers.  In the black of night, that young man tread water slicked with oil while several of his friends lost their lives around him.  I can’t imagine experiencing that, much less at such a young age.

We are indebted to these men and women who have put their lives at risk for our liberty.  Today, please let a veteran know how much you appreciate their service.

Lower Greenville Transformation Begins, Block by Block

Yesterday, Councilmember Pauline Medrano and I joined neighborhood association presidents, residents, Dallas Police, and major property owners for some exciting announcements about the future of Lower Greenville. 

Bottom line:  We’ve got a two-prong approach to transforming Lower Greenville, block by block.  First, we’re going to require Lower Greenville businesses open after midnight to get a specific use permit from the city.  That’ll help weed out some of the late-night, problem businesses that have brought crime, noise, traffic, and vandalism to the area.  Second, we’re going to improve the streetscape, making it more pedestrian-friendly with wider sidewalks, a narrowed street, street lamps, trees, enhanced crosswalks, and street furniture.  This will make the area more inviting for residents and visitors, and help lure back daytime businesses, retailers and restaurants.  Instead of waiting years to get this done, we’re going to start construction on part of this project — from Bell Street to Alta — NEXT SUMMER.

Some highlights from the press conference: Continue reading

Save the Date: November 30 Re-Election Kick-Off and Fundraiser

Please join community leaders and friends for a campaign kick-off celebrating the leadership of

ANGELA HUNT

and her efforts to strengthen Dallas neighborhoods and give a voice to regular citizens.

Tuesday, November 30th
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
The Stoneleigh Hotel
2927 Maple Ave.
Dallas, Texas 75201

Sponsorship Levels:  $2000*, $1000, $500, $250, single tickets $100

If you are unable to attend, please support Angela by making a campaign contribution.

You may contribute online at www.angelahunt.com/campaign-info/contribute/ or send a check to Angela Hunt City Council Campaign, P.O. Box 192128, Dallas, Texas 75219

*The maximum contribution is $1,000 for individuals, $2,000 per couple and $2,500 for Political Action Committees per election cycle.  Corporations may not contribute.