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Few Answers After Ohio EPA Aquifer Hearing

By Barb Anguiano, IPB News | Published on in Environment
WBOI photo.

Protestors gathered outside Fayette, Ohio’s Local School Tuesday to show their frustration at potential plans to pump water from the Michindoh Aquifer. The protest took place before an information session at Fayette’s Local School regarding the approval of a test well.

The Michindoh Aquifer spans underground, across nine counties- across the three states that make up its name, (Mi)chigan, (In)diana and (Oh)io.

If approved, the proposal would allow Ohio-based Artesian of Pioneer to pump water from the aquifer and offer it to Toledo’s suburbs as an alternative to the city’s water system which draws water from Lake Erie. Toledo has had recent issues with Lake Erie water quality because of algal blooms, which caused mayhem for the city in 2014 and began to reappear last year.

The proposal has been a hot button issue since last summer for residents who rely on the Aquifer as their main water source. They insist Ed Kidston, owner of Artesian, and Mayor of Pioneer, Ohio– has no right to pump and sell water from the aquifer. Some protesters living in Indiana and Michigan said they don’t feel their states are getting fair representation on an issue that could have harmful impacts on them.

But Ohio EPA spokesperson Heidi Grismer insisted input from Michigan and Indiana state officials will be considered before any final decisions are made. She said not enough information is known currently to say whether the project will be accepted.

Grismer said the purpose of the event was to allow residents an opportunity to learn more about the process.

“What we want people to walk away with tonight is a better understanding of this multi-step process and that we are at step one, and that there’s a lot of information that we need to know before we approve steps down the line,” she said.

Grismer noted that the petition is “unusual” because normally companies open water systems in places of great need. Grismer said if the plan to draw water from the Aquifer moves forward, more details would be needed from Artesian, including target customers and whether or not there are  other viable options for drinking water, which Grismer points out would be Lake Erie.

“We have been working with the city of Toledo and we have given them a lot of money in loans to make improvements to their drinking water system and they have made many improvements,” she said.

However, some residents were not satisfied with the EPA’s answers to questions on what they call ethical dilemmas.

Harold Emens from Waldron, Michigan said he’s worried about the aftermath if the plan to draw water would be approved. He said even if he doesn’t feel the immediate impact, he’s certain his kids will.

“It may not be today or tomorrow, but it’s going to be [an issue] down the road for our kids,” he said.

Based on the presentation, Emens said he felt as though the Ohio EPA was trying to determine whether the water from the Aquifer would be a suitable drinking source for Toledo– not so much determining how it would affect those that depend on them.

The public comment period ends Friday, March 15. Mailed comments must be postmarked by March 15. Additional information may be found at the Ohio EPA.