Garrettsville – Since oil/gas drilling can be associated with changes in well water quality, Garrettsville’s Board of Public Affairs has decided to be proactive in setting up a Water Monitoring Program for the Village’s water well fields. A proposal was accepted from Dr. Jeffrey C. Dick of YSU’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences to conduct a physical and chemical evaluation of Garrettsville’s water well field and the adjacent aquifer system.

Since drilling new wells for the sole purpose of monitoring Garrettsville’s watershed would be cost prohibitive, BPA is setting up a cost-effective water quality sampling program based on existing residential and business water wells within a 2-mile radius of the Village. Initial work on the study involves mapping ground water flow within the aquifer system of bedrock and glacial deposits that provides the 2400 residents of Garrettsville as well as residents of the surrounding area with their drinking water. The ground water flow maps will be used to determine possible ground water sampling sites for the purpose of monitoring ground water quality prior to oil/gas drilling activity.

Once suitable water wells are identified, those residents in the surrounding townships of Hiram, Nelson, Windham and Freedom will receive a letter explaining the program. Residents who agree to participate in the program will sign an agreement with the Village to allow their well water to be sampled at no cost to the participant.  The Portage County Health Department will do the collecting and have the samples tested by an EPA-certified lab. Garrettsville BPA will then share test results with residents in the Water Monitoring Program. In this co-operative effort, participating township residents and the Village will both benefit by receiving feedback on the quality of their drinking water.

If ongoing monitoring  indicates drilling-related contamination, testing data will be turned over to ODNR for action in regards to the drilling company.  According to Ohio Revised Code 1509.22(F) related to drilling, “a (driller) shall replace the water supply…..where the water supply has been substantially disrupted by contamination, diminution, or interruption proximately resulting from the (driller’s) oil or gas operation…”  It is prudent for the Village (or any water well owner concerned about drilling activity) to collect water quality data before and after drilling to have legally defensible data to turn over to ODNR, if need be.

The Portage County Health Department (330) 297-3502 offers Tier 3 water testing for indicators of change related to oil/gas drilling for $344. With drilling moving into our area, baseline water testing before drilling begins is advisable.

BPA would like to thank in advance all neighboring township residents who, when contacted in the next few months, volunteer to be part of our Water Monitoring Program.