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Meeting About Test Well Near Fayette Attracts Hundreds

Michindoh Aquifer

One thing was clear at a Tuesday, March 12 public information session at the Fayette School regarding a test well near Fayette for Artesian of Pioneer.

The audience, which started out at around 400 to 500 people, was adamantly opposed to a plan to draw water from the aquifer and pipe it east to Toledo suburbs.

Ed Kidston, of the Pioneer based company, has put forward a proposal to draw water from the threestate, nine-county underground aquifer for sale to communities to the east.

His plan has met with opposition from many who fear Kidston’s business proposal, which could pump millions of gallons of water a day out of the aquifer, could dry up area private and public wells.

A group of officials from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency held the information session to discuss the AOP proposal for the first production well for a new public water system.

While there were occasional comments shouted out, and applause when the crowd agreed with a point, the meeting was mostly orderly.

About two-thirds of the crowd left after the first break in the three-hour session.

Regulate

Heather Lauer, OEPA Public Interest Center; Taylor Browning, permit reviewer, drinking and ground waters for OEPA Northwest District; and Amy Klei, OEPA chief of the drinking and groundwater division, discussed the process for forming a new public water system.

The process has three steps.

The first step is well siting. This is where the AOP application stands.

Two additional steps– a general plan and a detailed plan– must follow.

At this point, the OEPA has reviewed the proposed well site and found that it meets preliminary requirements for a public water system well.

The permit for the first production well is in a review stage before a decision to allow the project to move forward is issued.

If OEPA approves moving forward, there must be a pump test of the production well.

The well will be pumped for 72 hours while EPA officials observe how the aquifer responds.

Questions such as how far the water in monitoring wells is drawn down and how quickly water levels recover are examined.

Samples of the water are taken to be analyzed for water quality, pollutants, and other issues.

Klei said OEPA officials are aware of the uniqueness of the AOP proposal. Most requests for wells for public water systems come from communities or county water systems.

She said, normally, public information sessions are not held in response to those requests.

Further, she told the audience that if the OEPA grants AOP permission to build a public water system, each new well built– by anyone– must repeat the process.

Questions

While there were dozens of questions asked of the OEPA officials, many dealt with the same question– will the AOP proposed public water system cause wells to go dry?

Part of that answer would rely on the pump test, but Klei told the crowd there’s much OPEA does not know about the proposed AOP public water system– including how much water the system plans to pump out of the aquifer.

She said OEPA is not approving a new public water system; all it has is an application for one well site.

While she said OEPA officials have read media reports talking about pumping 10 million to 15 million gallons per day, they have no official details from AOP.

Further, Klei said OEPA does not regulate the amount of water withdrawn by a well.

That, she said, is up to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. No one from ODNR attended the meeting.

OEPA officials were asked if public outcry against the project could stop it. She told the audience OEPA officials and legislators were aware of their concerns.

Further, she said OEPA is in contact with counterpart organizations in Indiana and Michigan.

One woman asked if it is ethical to allow a large commercial withdrawal of water when many others depend on the source.

“From a regulatory agency perspective, it would be inappropriate for me to answer that,” Klei said.



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