As a geologist studying the effects of oil and gas operations on California aquifers as part of the California fracking bill, I am acutely aware of the importance of clean, fresh water sources to communities throughout the desert southwest. While I am not an expert on our local aquifer, as a resident of Kanab, I am struck by some apparent contradictions in our local government’s opinions regarding our water supply.

On the one hand, we are told we need water that will be carried in a pipeline from Lake Powell to insure we will have sufficient water supplies for the future of our community. But, on the other hand, we are now being told we have plenty of water in our aquifer to not only supply the needs of Kanab in the future, but also to supply the needs of a frac sand mine north of town.

The mine is expected to use 658 acre-feet (ac-ft) of water per year but will have rights of up to 1200 ac-ft/yr (Southern Utah News, March 21, 2019). This is about 25 percent of the water Kane County is expected to receive from the Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP). (Note: an acre-foot is about the volume of a football field filled with one foot of water – about the amount a family of five uses in one year.  It is the unit in which large amounts of water are bought and sold in the U.S. – one acre-foot =325,851 gallons.)

If it’s true that we have sufficient water for the frac sand mine, wouldn’t it be better to keep that water for Kanab so we wouldn’t have to assume the costs of purchasing extra water from the Lake Powell pipeline? How much will it cost?

Kane County will get about 4000 ac-ft/year of LPP water (out of a total of 86,000 ac-ft/yr).  The Washington County Water Conservation District notes that the cost of water from the Lake Powell pipeline is approximately $11,500/ac-ft (https://www.wcwcd.org/wp-content/themes/wcwcd/pdt/LakePowellPipeling.pdf" onclick="dpSmartLink(this.href,'blankWin',0,0,'z:z','all');return document.MM_returnValue">https://www.wcwcd.org/wp-content/themes/wcwcd/pdt/LakePowellPipeling.pdf). So, Kane County will have to repay approximately $46 million (plus interest) to the state of Utah to cover the cost of the bond. The Washington County Water Conservation District also notes that, for both Washington and Kane counties, this will be accomplished by increasing water rates, property taxes and imposing impact fees.

So, in both supplying water to the mine AND paying for water from the pipeline, it would seem that the residents of Kanab are subsidizing the sand mining company with higher water fees and taxes since using our existing water supplies for future use would come at a minimal expense to us.

I also understand that the sand is to be shipped north to the Uinta Basin fracking operations so the frac sand trucks will be heading north along Highway 89 and not carrying sand through our town.

As a geologist currently working on fracking issues, I am concerned that, at some point in the future, the frac sand company may be awarded contracts to ship sand to the San Juan basin, and the even larger fracking operations in the Permian Basin of west Texas. The most direct route from the sand mine to the San Juan and Permian basins would be right through the heart of downtown Kanab on Hwy 89 south.

A run of the mill Wolfcampian horizontal well in the Permian Basin uses 12 to 14.5 million pounds of frac sand per well (The American Oil and Gas Reporter, Dec. 2017-- https://www.aogr.com/magazine/frac-facts/permian-driving-frac-sand-supply-shift" onclick="dpSmartLink(this.href,'blankWin',0,0,'z:z','all');return document.MM_returnValue">https://www.aogr.com/magazine/frac-facts/permian-driving-frac-sand-supply-shift). The Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research and Management Estimates noted that the number of truckloads of sand per fracked well increased from 62 in 2010 to 400 in 2016 (National Gas Intelligence Shale Daily, Aug. 10, 2016, https://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/107364-eps-pushing-proppant-intensity-ever-higher-say-frac-sand-sand" onclick="dpSmartLink(this.href,'blankWin',0,0,'z:z','all');return document.MM_returnValue">https://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/107364-eps-pushing-proppant-intensity-ever-higher-say-frac-sand-sand operators).  

The Southern Utah News on March 21, 2019, noted the project would entail four trucks leaving the plant each hour running 24/7. (Presumably the empty trucks would have to return to the plant to be refilled so that actually makes eight trucks per hour.) With potential increases in shipments to the Permian Basin, these large trucks would be carrying enormous volumes of sand through town resulting in an increase in traffic, noise, dust and road damage that the local citizens would have to endure and pay for with increased taxes and fees.

The May 16 issue of the Southern Utah News notes that our local government is already planning to improve the road to the mine site at Red Knoll. Is the mining company paying for that or are we? The safety concerns are obvious as the elementary school crosswalk is in the path of the trucks and Kanab has already had one pedestrian fatality this year on the same highway.  

What benefit does this mine really bring to our community? Where do the profits go? The jobs generated by this facility could be extremely expensive to our community in terms of water, public safety and infrastructure costs. Are they worth it?

I don’t mind paying increased taxes and fees for projects that benefit the community as a whole such as storm water, education and trails, but I dislike the idea of using taxes to subsidize a private company that, in a free market economy such as ours, should be required to pay their own way.

By Jan Gillespie

As a geologist studying the effects of oil and gas operations on California aquifers as part of the California fracking bill, I am acutely aware of the importance of clean, fresh water sources to communities throughout the desert southwest. While I am not an expert on our local aquifer, as a resident of Kanab, I am struck by some apparent contradictions in our local government’s opinions regarding our water supply.

On the one hand, we are told we need water that will be carried in a pipeline from Lake Powell to insure we will have sufficient water supplies for the future of our community. But, on the other hand, we are now being told we have plenty of water in our aquifer to not only supply the needs of Kanab in the future, but also to supply the needs of a frac sand mine north of town.

The mine is expected to use 658 acre-feet (ac-ft) of water per year but will have rights of up to 1200 ac-ft/yr (Southern Utah News, March 21, 2019). This is about 25 percent of the water Kane County is expected to receive from the Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP). (Note: an acre-foot is about the volume of a football field filled with one foot of water – about the amount a family of five uses in one year. It is the unit in which large amounts of water are bought and sold in the U.S. – one acre-foot =325,851 gallons.)

If it’s true that we have sufficient water for the frac sand mine, wouldn’t it be better to keep that water for Kanab so we wouldn’t have to assume the costs of purchasing extra water from the Lake Powell pipeline? How much will it cost?

Kane County will get about 4000 ac-ft/year of LPP water (out of a total of 86,000 ac-ft/yr). The Washington County Water Conservation District notes that the cost of water from the Lake Powell pipeline is approximately $11,500/ac-ft (https://www.wcwcd.org/wp-content/themes/wcwcd/pdt/LakePowellPipeling.pdf). So, Kane County will have to repay approximately $46 million (plus interest) to the state of Utah to cover the cost of the bond. The Washington County Water Conservation District also notes that, for both Washington and Kane counties, this will be accomplished by increasing water rates, property taxes and imposing impact fees.

So, in both supplying water to the mine AND paying for water from the pipeline, it would seem that the residents of Kanab are subsidizing the sand mining company with higher water fees and taxes since using our existing water supplies for future use would come at a minimal expense to us.

I also understand that the sand is to be shipped north to the Uinta Basin fracking operations so the frac sand trucks will be heading north along Highway 89 and not carrying sand through our town.

As a geologist currently working on fracking issues, I am concerned that, at some point in the future, the frac sand company may be awarded contracts to ship sand to the San Juan basin, and the even larger fracking operations in the Permian Basin of west Texas. The most direct route from the sand mine to the San Juan and Permian basins would be right through the heart of downtown Kanab on Hwy 89 south.

A run of the mill Wolfcampian horizontal well in the Permian Basin uses 12 to 14.5 million pounds of frac sand per well (The American Oil and Gas Reporter, Dec. 2017-- https://www.aogr.com/magazine/frac-facts/permian-driving-frac-sand-supply-shift). The Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research and Management Estimates noted that the number of truckloads of sand per fracked well increased from 62 in 2010 to 400 in 2016 (National Gas Intelligence Shale Daily, Aug. 10, 2016, https://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/107364-eps-pushing-proppant-intensity-ever-higher-say-frac-sand-sand operators).

The Southern Utah News on March 21, 2019, noted the project would entail four trucks leaving the plant each hour running 24/7. (Presumably the empty trucks would have to return to the plant to be refilled so that actually makes eight trucks per hour.) With potential increases in shipments to the Permian Basin, these large trucks would be carrying enormous volumes of sand through town resulting in an increase in traffic, noise, dust and road damage that the local citizens would have to endure and pay for with increased taxes and fees.

The May 16 issue of the Southern Utah News notes that our local government is already planning to improve the road to the mine site at Red Knoll. Is the mining company paying for that or are we? The safety concerns are obvious as the elementary school crosswalk is in the path of the trucks and Kanab has already had one pedestrian fatality this year on the same highway.

What benefit does this mine really bring to our community? Where do the profits go? The jobs generated by this facility could be extremely expensive to our community in terms of water, public safety and infrastructure costs. Are they worth it?

I don’t mind paying increased taxes and fees for projects that benefit the community as a whole such as storm water, education and trails, but I dislike the idea of using taxes to subsidize a private company that, in a free market economy such as ours, should be required to pay their own way.