Saltwater Purge Turns Farmland Brown & Barren

Monday, March 2nd 2020, 8:09 pm
By: Karl Torp

The source of saltwater coming up from the ground near the Kingfisher-Blaine County line has state officials confused and farmers frustrated.

Three gallons of saltwater per minute is bubbling up on farmland.

The landowners believe it’s been going on for at least a year and noticed the brown acreage after trees died this past summer.

“We thought it was the rain killing the wheat, but it was the saltwater killing the wheat,” said Ronald Schweitzer.

“They can't figure out how to stop it,” said Donald Schweitzer, who owns the farmland with his brother.

Three acres of the Schweitzer’s property is now brown and barren from the flowing saltwater.

The brothers along with other landowners have hired an attorney to investigate the cause of the purge due to the amount of oil and gas production in the area.

“It’s not naturally occurring,” said attorney Justin Hiersche.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission agrees and has been investigating the purge since July of 2019.

Its checked pipes and shut in disposal wells within 6 miles of the purge site, yet the saltwater is still flowing up.

“I've been here 20 years and I've never seen anything like this. Old veterans, like me, say they can't think of one quite like this,” said Oklahoma Corporation Commission Spokesman Matt Skinner.

Skinner also said restricting pressures on disposal wells in region appears to have reduced the amount of saltwater.

The 3.1 gallons of saltwater a minute is down from the 15 gallons per minute when the purge was first reported.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission told News 9 it will continue to investigate the cause of the purge.

In the meantime, pumps have been built to put the water into tanker trucks which can be replaced.

A more permanent pipeline is being considered as well.

“It was kind of a funny deal to start off with, but I'm sick of it now,” said Donald Schweitzer.