Saline has lifted its moratorium on wholesale water sales to companies within the city.
The moratorium had been in place since the spring after concerns that gas and oil exploration companies might use city water in a process known as fracking. While state officials downplayed the danger, the Council instituted the policy,
The impetus to lift the ban came through a request for city water for a 57-unit assisted living complex under construction at 650 Woodland Drive, at the intersection of Woodlawn and Industrial Drive.
The developer, Reender, Inc., of Grand Haven, is constructing a geothermal field for the site and needs the water. The geothermal field uses the ground temperature to heat and cool the complex, saving on energy costs.
The developer anticipates a consumption of 56,000 gallons of water for 28 305-feet deep holes. Additional water will be required for dust and moisture control.
City Manager Todd Campbell said the city has a history of selling water to contractors for various projects. The Council had considered an ordinance banning all sales to absolve it from selling any water for fracking purposes.
Campbell asked if the council would consider an exception or an outright end to the moratorium.
The time for a change in policy appears to be now according to one council member.
“We should have some kind of time frame, six months or 12 months,” Jim Peters said about the moratorium. “I am in favor of lifting it altogether. If you are a licensed contractor and you are engaged in legal work, then Saline should be able to sell you water."