DeKalb County residents express concerns about aquifer drilling

Wednesday, people in DeKalb County said they're worried their backyard wells will eventually go dry.

Posted: Oct 17, 2018 11:20 PM
Updated: Oct 17, 2018 11:30 PM

AUBURN, Ind. (WFFT) - Artesian of Pioneer said it is about a month away from drilling test wells, to see if it will be able to pump millions of gallons a day to the Toledo area.

Wednesday, people in DeKalb County said they're worried their backyard wells will eventually go dry.

"Our only source of drinking water is from the groundwater in the well," said Jim Thomas who lives in southeastern DeKalb County.

Dozens of people from across DeKalb County were at a meeting Wednesday to learn more about Artesian of Pioneer proposal to pipe millions of gallons of water from the Michindoh Aquifer to the Toledo area.

The suburbs there are looking for a new water source after Toledo's water issues had issues of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

Thomas said he's afraid what that kind of pumping would do for the economy in DeKalb County .

"My main concern is clearly the loss of drink water for families, businesses or even small towns in this region," Thomas said.

However, a Trine University Civil Engineer professor said that may not be the case right away.

Jeremy Rentz said it would take about 25 years for one well field to make an impact on the water in Indiana, but more well fields means the impact would be sooner.

However Pat Kinsey, who owns a home near Garrett, said she's not worried for herself.

"I think this is really important for our future generations. We may not be bothered with it right now. But I have to look ahead," said Kinsey.

State Representative Ben Smaltz, who represents DeKalb County, is trying to protect the water system people in northeast Indiana are used to.

That's because the Indiana DNR shows the aquifer spreading into Lagrange and Noble Counties, which isn't represented on many maps from Ohio.

"Our lakes are held in place by hydrologic pressure and springs. And what happens to that pressure once that is release?" Smaltz said.

On August 13, Artesion of Pioneer CEO and and pioneer Ohio mayor, Ed Kidston told FOX 55 the water from the region is already going to Toledo, he's just planning on making a short cut.

"I'm not taking water at all. We are just taking the water from up here, and filtering it, before we put our waste in it," Kidston previously said.

That's because the St. Joseph River feeds the Maumee and heads to Toledo.

Smaltz said he's working to try to stop the project from Indianapolis.

The problem is Artesian of Pioneer only has to follow Ohio laws, which are different that the rules in Indiana.

"I was holding out hope and still do that there would be room for our attorney general to bring legal action and stop this from happening," Smaltz said.

Thomas is hoping more studies will be done before something actually happens.

"Perhaps it is fine, but it appears we don't have any studies that show it is fine or not fine," he said.

The U.S. Geological Survey survey recently told county leaders from the tri-state area a 10 year study is needed to see how the aquifer could handle this kind of drilling.

Many of those counties, including DeKalb County, passed resolutions opposing the plan.

Kidston told FOX 55 the communities surrounding Toledo are committing money to help pay for the test wells.

The Ohio EPA said Artesian of Pioneer doesn't need approval to test the wells, but it does to actually pipe the water east.

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