Chester Township residents once again heard from state officials concerning Natural Lime and Stone Co.’s use of the quarry located outside Chesterville, as the company wants to remove deeply buried ground water from the quarry, in order to extract more gravel from the site.
Ohio Department of Natural Resource officials met with concerned residents on Jan. 26 to explain the water removal process known as “de-watering”. Natural Lime and Stone Co. has requested a state permit to begin the “de-watering” process.
ODNR Hydrogeologists Kelly Barrett and Wayne Jones explained the quarry’s geological and hydrological makeup to the audience.
Barrett explained the requirement of a cone of depression for the permit modification to de-water at the quarry.
She noted that the pumping to discharge the groundwater makes a “cone of depression.”
Jones stated with some confidence that their “de-watering” testing shows a minimal effect on wells and water in higher areas and uplands that surround the quarry.
Should the company’s permit be approved, ODNR Field Supervisor, Tyson Lamielle said the state will perform quarterly inspections of the site. Residents can contact the inspectors if they feel their well has been impacted by the de-watering.
Chester Township resident, Gary Ruby was the first to respond to ODNR officials following their presentation. Ruby said that he is aware of three Delco water wells inside the area that would be impacted by the de-watering of the quarry as the permit requests.
However, Jones said that he was not aware of those wells and would look into the question.
Ruby also asked if the quality of water would be affected by the company requested deeper mining and also wondered about the effect on artisan wells and the Kokosing River.
ODNR officials declined to answer any questions on the surface water going into the Kokosing and said that is an EPA matter.
Lamielle referred to OSU Extension Bulletin 822 for any questions on surface water regulations. The Ohio EPA would be the agency to approve the surface water permit that Natural Lime and Stone Co. has also requested. The pending permit asks to pump 4 million gallons a day from the quarry.
Audience member Tyler Shinaberry, asked about the effects on farmland with the de-watering. He is concerned that there will be a “loss in in the zone of aeration” for much farmland in the area.
“Will we have the equivalent of a drought effect for 40 years?” Shinaberry asked. “Where do we draw the line on responsible use?” He wondered if the value of the gravel they would get from the quarry is really worth that much more than the value of the farmland and the scenic Kokosing River.
Jones conceded that civil litigation might be needed by the township in the case of drought, although he did not think that drought would be a likely possibility.
Audience member Patti Ray suggested that the ODNR officials have a note in the permit that the National Lime and Stone Co. pay for residents’ expense on the suggested baseline surveys.
Since she believed it to be probable that there would be problems with some wells, Ray suggested having an action plan, rather than waiting until there is necessary litigation.
A representative of the National Lime and Stone Co. was in the room. He spoke up to say that the company will pump into a pond on site to avoid problems of erosion when water is discharged into the Kokosing River. He said, “We want to be good neighbors.”
The company has a reportedly good record of taking care of wells. Several in the room expressed some skepticism about that fact and said that once an artisan well was gone it could not be brought back.
For more information
ODNR officials left their contact information for Township Trustees and residents. They also gave numbers of the Ohio Revised Code that apply to Surface Mine Permits and “de-watering” of Surface Mines, including ORC 1514 on the review process as well as ORC 1514.081 and 1515.13.
The meeting closed with Lamielle stating that the permit modification to “de-water” is still under review with no definite timeline for completion.
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