Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is becoming much more widely used as a method of extracting natural gas in the northeastern United States. Aside from benefiting from jobs, tax revenues, and lower energy prices, Pennsylvania water officials are experiencing previously unheard of sales of water — whose proceeds fund local governments — to companies who use the water for fracking. From the Centre Daily Times:
The Bellefonte Borough Water Authority has sold its water to drillers and gas well service companies “for years,” according to assistant borough manager Don Holderman. Since it’s licensed to withdraw up to 5 million gallons of water per day from the aquifer, but only requires about 2 million to meet the borough’s needs, selling the excess water was a logical decision, Holderman said.
Last year, the authority made $300,000 selling its water at $6 per 1,000 gallons to Anadarko, Exco, A&A Construction and RN Industries. Companies connect to the source through a hook-up in the Penn Eagle Industrial Park. This year, the authority is on pace to sell $250,000 worth of water.
This is only one of many local municipalities involved in providing water for the fracking process. Now, there a number of problems that come with monopolistic public control over water provision, see this blog for an overview. However, given the framework, the additional revenue is clearly a positive for revenue-deprived local governments.
As the article notes, many areas of Pennsylvania have a surplus of easily replenished water (compared to other parts of the country, such as Texas) that is going unused. In areas where water supplies are no where near exhausted, use of the water for fracking is an excellent hidden positive from the fracking of natural gas.