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Drought raises concerns about water supply

Due to the current drought conditions, I think this is an appropriate time to tell you a little story about my life and how it is connected to the way I feel about the environmental issues concerning the (proposed) biomass plant.

For the length of my whole life, I have lived by Cider Fork Creek. This creek wound around the 350 acres in a horseshoe pattern surrounding our farm. This water system reminds me very much of a smaller version of Blue River. It is totally spring-fed and is continually spring-fed until it runs into Whiskey Run Creek. At one time, this creek provided for a multitude of aquatic life, it had several swimming holes and areas to fish in, it provided a good catch of goggle eye, blue gill and sunfish, and people came from several miles around to sane for minnows. We also had an abundant amount of frogs, turtles, crawfish and snakes, and it was also the home of beavers that made a large dam at one end of the creek.

When I was growing up on the farm, we had to entertain ourselves. We had no A/C, so during hot weather, the first place we headed to cool off was to take a dip in the creek. Not only did we go there to cool off, but it was a popular hangout for all the teenagers. We either went to the swimming hole or we went fishing.

Cider Fork not only served the function of entertaining us, but we used the water for our stock, and many people would bring their milk jugs down to the head of the spring and fill them with the crystal-clear spring water. As time went by, this creek has served my children and grandchild in the exact same manner, but, as the years went by, the spring started to dry up, less and less clear water flowed into Cider Fork, and, finally, at times, it became completely dry. The result of this was the loss of the aquatic life in the creek, the mammals and reptiles all left or died off and, even when water did come back and flow in it once again, the creek was still not the same, as it seemed dead and no life was visible in it or around it.

Due to our recent drought, Blue River is very low and many people along its banks report that it is the lowest they have ever seen it. I have also experienced our own personal well going dry back in 2008, and I understand that some people are experiencing the same problem in this drought situation.

This situation is troubling. What if it is this dry and the biomass incinerator would be withdrawing their approximately 800,000 gallons a day of water out of the local aquifer system? I cannot imagine what type of crises we would be in.

The Blue River Regional Water District uses 200,000 gallons a day for the Milltown and Marengo area. This plant would be using approximately four times that every day, and I do not know how the local aquifer system would support that type of water withdrawal on a daily basis. These facilities have a ravenous appetite not only for our clean drinking water, but for other precious natural resources like our forest (according to Tim Hermach of the Native Forest Council, only 10 percent of old growth forest still survives today). A study published by the RISI, which is the leading provider of information for the Global Forest Product Industry, found that federal and state mandates, if fully implemented, would lead to over-harvesting of forest in the United States and are, therefore, unrealistic.

The fight for water in the U.S. is a major concern across the nation and in Canada. Since 2000, the Colorado River, which provides water for seven U.S. states, has carried less water than at any time in recorded history. Meanwhile, the states and the Canadian provinces of the water-rich Great Lakes basin have drawn up an agreement to restrict the export of water from their region. If they are concerned about large bodies of water such as the Great Lakes and Colorado River, then I think that we should be very concerned, as well, about our own water systems, rivers and creeks and their continued health and survival.

Cara Jones
Marengo, Ind.
November 16, 2010

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