What people are saying

Bryan Times Aug. 14, 2018 (report by Lucas Bechtol, Opposed to opposition)  Josh Nichols, who has organized several protests against the plan in Bryan.  “Water is the most vital of all resources.  It sustains all life; it sustains agriculture; it sustains industry.”  There are other instances of this around the country where aquifers are running dry.  I think history shows this is a bad idea, period.”  He added that citizens have nothing to gain while Kidston has everything to gain.

Other people said they didn’t want to see their well levels drop, with at least one person saying his current well is more than 100 feet deep and he wasn’t sure how deep a new well would have to be.

Lee Clymer, a longtime area resident, related his experience living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for 20 years.  “Aurora ran out of water,” he said, adding residents there came to Colorado Springs to get water from a reservoir.  “They took that water.  The last time I talked to my sons, they never filled it back up.  I don’t know if there are any people who own property in Lake Seneca … If you’ve got lakefront property, if you have a couple of dry summers you won’t have a lake for your lakefront property.  I’ve seen it happen.”

Clymer also asked if anyone would be subsidized for the water removed for this project, something he likened to Alaskans getting subsidized for the oil pumped.

Patti Fee was concerned because when the Menards plant was built outside Holiday City, she said, her sister’s water supply went dry.  Kidston, however, later said Menards gets its water from Montpelier.

Another person asked if the other states had been contacted about the aquifer, saying because there are three states involved it is likely a federal issue, while another person likened the plan to Canada deciding to drain Lake Erie and how the U.S. would react.

Bryan Times, Aug. 29, 2018 (report by Lucas Bechtol, Citizens put questions to AOP leader)  Ed Kidson, president and owner of Artesian of Pioneer, answered many questions about his aquifer drilling proposal presented to him by both members of the Montpelier Village Council and Montpelier citizens.

Hundreds of people showed up to listen to the presentation, but only Montpelier residents were allowed to ask questions under a three-minute time limit since the whole presentation was part of a Montpelier Village Council meeting and the council was elected to serve Montpelier residents.

Montpelier Village Councilman Kevin Motter said Kidston had remarked during a meeting in Whitehouse that 15 percent of a one-time rain would go into the aquifer, which would provide enough water for several communities.  Motter wanted to know where these numbers came from.

Kidston said he likes to be “very, very conservative” when using numbers this early in the project.  “So I used the number 15 percent, the expert in Angola (Indiana) said it was 25 percent, so it would be much greater than what I said it was,” he said, referencing Certified Groundwater Professional Jack Wittman, Ph.D., vice president and Midwest principal geoscientist at Intera GeoScience and Engineering Solutions, who spoke in Angola last week.

Kidston said that it may be a conservative number, but it was accurate.

Todd Feenstra, president of Tritium, Inc., which will be a consulting with AOP for the project and has a history of working with large water projects, answered questions about how tiling affects aquifer recharge.

“Tiling fields is just a way to get water off the fields quicker, so it definitely would decrease the recharge locally at that specific spot,” he said.  “The bigger problem that we encountered when we do modeling of the recharging areas is the county drain commissioners have gotten very, very good at keeping the drains clear.  That pretty much overwhelms any of the tiling effects.”

When asked by Councilman Chris Kannel about the volume of water proposed in the project, Kidston said that was “a tough question.”  Currently there is no contract for the project, though the contract for testing is in the mail.

“I’ve told the Toledo group the economics do not work unless it’s at least a 3 (million)- to 5 million-gallon-a-day system,” Kidston said.  “If everybody that we talked to thus far in the Toledo market and in Henry County and Fulton County come aboard, it will be 14-16 million gallons a day on the upper end.”

This will provide 100 percent of the usage to those areas, which Kidston said was necessary because the Ohio EPA forbids communities from mixing surface water and ground water in a water system.  That’s because treating surface water is much different and more complex than treating ground water.

Kidston said well fields are specific and can only get so much water at a time.  Any additional needs would be met with additional well fields which would have to go through a long review process.

This review process is also what will stop over-drilling from other companies doing similar projects once AOP opens “the genie bottle,” Kidston said.  “You have to prove it’s sustainable or the EPA is going to put up a stop sign,” he said.

Kannel brought up the issue of a drought and its effects on the water, recalling a bad drought when he was a child.  “At that time we weren’t allowed to water our yards or wash our cars,” he said.  “That’s because our water comes from the ground underneath us.”

In another such drought, Kannel asked, would those sort of restrictions apply to anyone receiving water from the Michindoh?

Kidston referred to Feenstra for the answer.  “The drought you’re referring to was in the late ’80s; there was another one in 2012,” he said.  “You can see on the graphs that the groundwater levels were stable through that drought.  So, shallower wells and residential wells may have issues, if they are very, very shallow wells.”

For municipalities, Feenstra said, it would be very, very difficult for those wells to run out of water.  “If we do our job correctly, you shouldn’t (have any issues) because we designed for drought conditions,” he added.

When asked about climate change and how that could affect the water levels in the aquifer, Kidston said the “verdict is still out” on global warming and how, specifically, it would affect areas.

Kidston said if climate change is real then the area has as much chance to get even more rain than it does now than it does to receive less rain.  “I’m not a fortune teller, what I am is a water guy,” Kidston said.  “I know that a well, once it’s proven out, a well will produce.”

When Motter asked point-blank what this benefit was for Montpelier, Kidston admitted to not having an exact answer.  “I can’t say specifically, but my employees shop in Montpelier,” he said.  “I will say that the pump vendor, salesman, who sells us most of our pumps — and there will be lots of pumps on this project — lives in the Montpelier school district.”

Overall, he reiterated there were benefits for the county if economic activity is created.  In addition, the water could come from the Montpelier area.  “We’re going to let science dictate where we need to go to find water and which farmers we can deal with,” Kidston said.  “If some of them happen to be in the Montpelier area, that would be an economic benefit.”

In addition, when asked by a Montpelier resident about advertising the water for economic development, Kidston said he is in favor of that idea and could use this project as a springboard.  “We should be able to use this as a (public relations) move and say, “Hey, we’ve got lots of water,” he said.  “If you’re a bottling company, come here, create jobs, we’re all for it.”

Connie Short, a resident of rural Montpelier who was the last to speak after all residents of Montpelier village spoke, asked what his profit margins were going to be on the project.

Short said people who quote a project need to know three things: customer expectations, project costs and margin target.  Kidston didn’t know what his margins would be.

“I know my customers’ expectations; we do not know costs and unless we know costs we can’t figure the margins,” he said.  “We are not going to find 15 million gallons a day on one 80-acre farm.”

Where those different wells are located, especially in relation to each other, and how many wells there are in total will all factor into the costs of the project, Kidston added.  Without those numbers, he can’t calculate costs, let alone margins.

When comments were opened to the public, one person asked shy not teach these communities how to treat their water instead of coming for the aquifer’s water.

Kidston said the other communities are asking why places like Montpelier and Pioneer are allowed to put their waste in the water supply feeding these other communities.

“We use the water here, we run it through our sewer plants, we put in the St. Joe River and it ships down to Toledo,” he said.  “All they’re asking is, ‘Can we please have it before you put your waste in it?'”  Once the waste gets in the water, Kidston continued, it becomes harder and more expensive to treat it.

Ronald Steinke, who is related to Kidston, took issues with the numbers Kidston has been citing and brought with him to the meeting Monday.

“I’ve done my own research,” he said.  “These figures are fine for 1950; this is the year 2018.  The federal government’s own research released in 2012 said in the next 20 years people are going to use 30 percent more water just for the people here now.”

Steinke also brought up that much of the farmland in the county is tiled, also negating the numbers.

Kidston said the latest numbers on the graph he brought in were current as of this past Sunday.  “It shows the water tables are rising,” he said.

Steinke also asked how Kidston planned to get the water to these communities, bringing up worries about the use of eminent domain.

Kidston replied, first shooting down many of the stories he has heard on Facebook, including having a deal with the Ohio Turnpike and using eminent domain, before replying that he simply didn’t know.

What we do know is that one of the partners in this group is fulton County,” he said.  “Fulton County has right of ways throughout their county, obviously, on township and on county roads and on state highways and my guess is that, if in fact the project proceeds, Fulton County will allow us to go along the right of ways on their roads.  But, that’s just a guess right now.”

That aspect hasn’t been discussed as it is too early in the project especially if the test wells show the project isn’t feasible.

While Kidston reasserted he would stop the project if science proved it to be harmful, when asked by Councilwoman Melissa Ewers if he would stop in light of overwhelming opposition from the communities and governments in the area, Kidston declined.

“This is my business,” he said.  “We supply solutions to people with water problems.  This is a good answer to those in need and I believe strongly it will generate tremendous economic opportunity for Williams County.

“A decade from now, if this project goes through, I think we’re all going to look back and say, ‘Why were we against this?’ because it will generate jobs, economic activity, taxes, and it will be beneficial and it won’t hurt us in any way,” Kidston continued.  “One thing Dr. Wittman said, these kinds of projects could go through and nobody would notice and that’s what we’re after.  That’s why we’re testing.”

Bryan Times, Sept. 1, 2018 (report by Ron Osburn, County Democratic Party opposes AOP drill plan)  The Williams County Democratic Party on Tuesday approved a resolution opposing the commercial distribution of Michindoh Aquifer water as proposed by Artesian of Pioneer owner/president Ed Kidston.

The unanimous vote by the central committee came after extended discussion.  The party felt it was time to take a stand on the issue.  Center Township committee representative John Engler told The Bryan Times Friday.

“We’re the party of the people.  We felt it was time for us to have a voice in this,” Engler said.