Battle Over Wastewater Injection Wells In Lake Arlington

An Arlington citizens group promises it’s ready to resume battle to oppose any wastewater injection wells near Lake Arlington.

A proposal to drill such a well close to the lake was recently withdrawn by Oklahoma-based Bluestone Energy.

“We wanted this outcome,” said Ranjana Bhandari, founding member of citizens group Liveable Arlington.  “We hope that Bluestone withdrew its application in the face of community pressure.”

In paperwork filed with the Texas Railroad Commission to withdraw its application, the company did not explain its reasoning. But the decision came after loud public complaint and opposition from city leaders in Arlington and in Fort Worth, where the well would have been physically located.

“We were settling in for a long fight this summer,” said Bhandari in an interview following the withdrawal.

Her group launched a campaign and sent thousands of letters opposing the well, worried that it could taint drinking water or even threaten the stability of the dam holding in the lake. Those concerns were shared by city leaders.

“We didn’t think this was the time to take a chance on something that big and that important to our city,” said Arlington City Council member Kathryn Wilemon, whose district covers Lake Arlington.

Bluestone’s decision to withdraw doesn’t prevent it from reapplying for an injection well near the lake in the future.  The company already has other facilities along the lake, as do other companies.

Wilemon said that while Arlington and Fort Worth are business-friendly, a saltwater injection well is different than existing oil and gas installations.

Both Fort Worth and Arlington have municipal bans on that type of well, but local government regulations are largely superseded by a state law that placed control with the Texas Railroad Commission.

“I’m always for more local control,” Wilemon said. “We know what our citizens need.”

She hopes that the local ban is respected by Bluestone and other energy companies.  And Liveable Arlington is holding on to their bumper stickers and campaign materials in case the fight over the lake returns.

“This is now a constant threat,” said Bhandari.  “Collectively our voices count for something.”

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