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Much Ado About Water

By Staff | Aug 27, 2014

Over the past several days there has been much talk about the State of West Virginia advertising for offers to lease the mineral resources under the Ohio River in sections of Wetzel, Marshall, and Pleasants counties.

The legal advertisement was printed in last week’s and this week’s editions of the Wetzel Chronicle. Obviously we knew of the advertisement before it printed, but barely blinked an eye at it. The public’s response, that we have seen, to the advertisement and following news stories actually surprised us a bit.

In our opinion, the drilling for minerals, oil and natural gas as stated in the advertisement, beneath the Ohio River is no different than the drilling for those resources under any other ground.


Because the Ohio River has an average depth of 15 feet from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. When we checked the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction for the Hannibal Lock and Dam Monday night, the level was 13.07 feet-just slightly over the heads of two average adults standing one on top of the other. The highest recorded flood level New Martinsville has ever seen is 51.20 feet in 1913. Even that depth didn’t change, at least by any great amount, the level of the river’s bed.

New Martinsville sits at 623 feet above sea level. That would put the river bed at about 610 feet above sea level.

In our area, most Marcellus Shale wells are drilled to a depth of 6,000 feet below sea level. Utica Shale is estimated to be at 8-10,000 feet below sea level in our area.

The difference in depth is huge-so huge that it really makes no difference if the top of the ground is covered with grass or water.

The depth difference between the bottom of the river and the riverbank is smaller than most hills or even knolls in Wetzel County. It just appears different because of the water.

Water is indeed a precious resource, we will heartily admit that.

The possibility of hydrofracturing to contaminate groundwater is widely disputed. Some say it is isn’t possible. Some say it has occurred.

We’ll leave that decision up to you. Once you research the claims and science, make up your own mind. Whatever you decide, it should be your belief no matter where horizontal bores reach-under dry land, the Ohio River, or your family’s water source.