TRAVERSE CITY — Leelanau County largely lies outside the portion of northern Michigan targeted by the oil and gas industry for fracking, but some local residents remain concerned about its effects on shared natural resources.
The League of Women Voters Leelanau County will host a presentation on the fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, issue on Wednesday. Christopher Grobbel, an environmental consultant with Traverse City-based Grobbel Environmental and Planning Associates, will talk about the risks of oil and gas development and potential solutions.
Grobbel said his discussion primarily will focus on fracking’s impact on groundwater.
“That water is lost to the hydrologic cycle forever. It becomes a waste or it remains in the ground,” Grobbel said. “The issue is not so much the number, as the fact that it’s a public resource.”
Fracking allows production companies to extract natural gas that trapped deep in the earth. Water mixed with sand and chemicals is pumped into the ground, fractures rock and releases gas trapped inside.
One deep fracking well in Kalkaska County’s Excelsior Township sucked up 21 million gallons of water just to develop the site, Grobbel said.
Fracking technology is credited with boosting employment numbers in rural, job-poor areas like Kalkaska, but local League of Women Voters members said they worry about fracking’s impact on county and regional water resources.
“The water, millions of gallons of water, then what do you do with it when you’re done with it?” said Ann McInnis, the chapter’s Energy Committee chair. “They bring it back up and it has these chemicals and now what?”
League members hope to learn how to ban or regulate fracking in local municipalities.
“My basic approach is we need to do everything that we can to make sure that future generations have the same kinds of resources that we have,” said Susan Wheadon, a member of the League of Women Voters Leelanau County who spent the last three years learning about fracking.