By jeanne starmack
Struthers is leasing land to Aqua Ohio so Aqua can sell water to companies that haul it to fracking sites.
The city has leased 2 acres it owns at the corner of State and Walton streets at the border of Youngstown.
Trucks that have a 3,000-gallon capacity will fill up with untreated water from Aqua’s Hamilton Lake at the station and take it to sites in Ohio, where gas companies plan to drill for natural gas in a deep rock formation called the Utica Shale.
The companies will drill vertically, then horizontally into the shale and fracture it with millions of gallons of fluid that includes water, sand and chemicals. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, releases the natural gas from the shale.
“With fracking coming in, there will be a demand for water,” said Al Sauline, area manager for Aqua. “We have the resources.”
Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker said Aqua approached the city about available land. The two acres is part of a 7-acre parcel the city owns. The lake water will reach the pumping station, which Aqua began building in February, through pipes that run through Yellow Creek Park, Stocker said. The station is automated. Truckers will have PIN numbers to activate it.
Sauline isn’t sure how many trucks a day the station will serve, but Stocker said it could generate $84,000 a year. That’s equal to the income-tax revenue of 100 workers who make $40,000 a year, he said.
He said the lease agreement is for $6,000 a year, and the city is getting $3.25 per truck.
“At an average of 100 vehicles a day, that’s $1,625 per week, $6,500 a month, or $78,000 a year, plus the lease, that’s $84,000 a year,” Stocker said.
Stocker was basing the figures on a five-day week. “We’re hoping it becomes a 24-7 operation,” he said.
Sauline said that Aqua is in the business of selling drinking water, and it did an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency-ordered “safe yield” study to make sure it has enough water in Lake Hamilton to serve customers that use the lake — the cities of Campbell and Struthers.
Campbell uses 1.2 million gallons a day, and Struthers uses 400,000 gallons a day from the lake.
The study showed the lake has a safe yield of 5 million gallons a day, Sauline said.
Stocker said he doesn’t believe the increased truck traffic will be a problem.
Trucks will use state Route 616 to State Street, or Interstate 680 to come to the station, he said.
“Truck traffic is a good thing. People are making money,” he said.