Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District lease says no shale wells, pipelines on its Seneca Lake property

NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio — The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) has negotiated an oil and gas lease for 6,700 acres of its property at Seneca Lake in Guernsey and Noble counties that will prohibit any surface development on MWCD property and add protections to adjacent private properties.

The lease agreement between the MWCD and Antero Resources of Colorado was presented to the MWCD board of directors for review Jan. 18, with an expected recommendation for the board to approve the lease at the board’s Feb. 15 meeting.

Public input

The lease contains a number of environmental protections for the MWCD property at Seneca Lake that includes additional protections for property owners adjacent to the MWCD-owned property, said Sean D. Logan, MWCD’s chief of conservation.

“The MWCD has always negotiates basic protections into the leases it enters into,” Logan said. “We are pleased that we received very serious, very thoughtful suggestions and guidance from the public that shares our concerns in this process.”

Under the lease terms, there will be no well pads, lease roads or pipelines on MWCD property, and surface operations on adjacent lands where the MWCD shares in the well or lands also leased by Antero and located within a half-mile of MWCD property also will be subject to the terms of the lease, said Mark Swiger, MWCD’s natural resources administrator who has negotiated and managed MWCD leases for more than 35 years.

Some details

Other protections of the reservoir area included in the lease, according to Swiger, include:

– The MWCD will have an opportunity to view Antero’s well development plans annually;

– The MWCD will have the right to review the location of all well pads, associated roadways and pipelines;

– The MWCD will review all erosion and sedimentation plans, safety plans and engineering site plans prior to any construction;

– The MWCD will have access to the construction site prior to work commencing and during the drilling and completion phases;

– The lease also will include light and sound control to reduce the impact to the immediate lake community.

Financial terms of the lease still are being negotiated, Logan said.

The lease document also can be found on the MWCD website (www.mwcd.org/conservation) and public comments will be accepted by the MWCD by sending an e-mail message to senecacomments@mwcd.org, by fax at 330-364-4161 or by regular mail to, Seneca Comments, MWCD, P.O. Box 349, New Philadelphia OH 44663.

The MWCD staff plans to recommend to the board of directors to enter into the lease with Antero at the board’s Feb. 15 meeting, and will review comments and suggestions received prior to that meeting for any potential lease changes and upgrades, said Logan.

MWCD officials held a public meeting last October in the Village of Senecaville in which they announced that lease negotiations would begin, and pledged that any lease developed for recommendation to the board of directors first would be available for a period of public review and comment prior to any action by the board.

Other leases

The MWCD previously signed leases related to the Utica shale development in 2011 with Gulfport Energy Co. for MWCD-owned property at Clendening Lake in Harrison County and a similar non-development lease in 2012 with Chesapeake Energy Co. for MWCD-owned property at Leesville Lake in Carroll County.

The MWCD has managed oil and gas leases on its properties for its entire 80-year history as a part of its overall natural resources stewardship program. There are approximately 275 traditional (Clinton development) wells that the MWCD receives royalties from, Swiger said.

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio.



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