CELDF

Standard Speaker: Supervisors want to hear from nonprofit about well issue

From The Standard Speaker:

The North Union Twp. supervisors invited officials from a nonprofit organization to speak to them about how they might stop a company from using a well to supply 210,000 gallons of water a day to Eagle Rock Resort.

“What we’ve been doing for over 10 years is working with local communities to help them gain more power to make decisions about what happens within the boundaries of their communities,” said Melinda Clatterbuck, an official with the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network.

The issue at hand is a variance granted by Schuylkill County zoners last summer to allow Aqua Pennsylvania to withdraw the groundwater.

Residents hired a private lawyer to fight the variance in county court, and township supervisors directed their solicitor to file an appeal.

Residents fear that the proposed project will contaminate their water supply or cause wells to go dry.

During the recent meeting, Clatterback suggested that supervisors draft an ordinance that would prohibit water extractions in the township.

“It would be a law to protect your community, to stop corporations from drawing down into the water that you need to live and that your families have lived on for years,” Clatterback explained.

The proposed well is about 1,000 feet away from Darlene and Wayne Van Blargan’s home.

“If Aqua PA turns on the pump for the well and predatory water extraction begins, our wells could go dry or become contaminated by this excessive water draw,” Darlene Van Blargan said. “We are in a battle for our lives and our community. We welcome the idea of an ordinance that would prohibit water extractions like the one proposed by Aqua PA.”

The Van Blargans and other residents formed Protect Our Water Supply, which hired attorney Donald Karpowich to fight their case. Darlene Van Blargan said the proposed well could have far-reaching effects.

“Without water or with contaminated water, our property will be worthless and we will lose everything we worked for our whole lives,” she said. “Our neighbors in Eagle Rock, Cove Village, Weston and Oneida could also face the possibility of contaminated water if the aquifer becomes contaminated.”

Darlene Van Blargan said they plan to continue their legal appeal and are “confident” that they will win.

“While this is an issue in North Union Twp. today, it could be your community tomorrow, if big corporations are permitted to do whatever they want and are not held accountable for their actions,” she said. “What does the future hold for all of us?”

Contact the writer: jwhalen@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3592.

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