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Article published December 5, 2012
Help the Woodlands
Nancy Neel Butler
Sometimes disaster strikes nearby and we don’t even know it. Two years ago, disaster struck Butler County in a rural community called the Woodlands. Aptly named, the Woodlands is a rustic area where country roads wind through quiet woods, and houses nestle among tall trees. It’s the kind of place where it wouldn’t be surprising to spot a red fox trotting at the edge of a wood line. Some of the best water around could be found in parts of the Woodlands — cold, clear, abundant water. That was until two years ago when disaster struck. Strange things started to happen. Some of the residents began to experience vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, nosebleeds and unbearable headaches.They watched their pets die — dogs, cats, goats. Tap water that had been clear for years suddenly turned black, purple or orange — or just wasn’t there any more. So now, each Monday, almost 25 Woodlands families have to drive to a “water bank” at the White Oak Springs Presbyterian Church near Connoquenessing to pick up 20 or 25 gallons of donated drinking water. The amount is not enough and is less than what the Red Cross considers the minimum required for an emergency — two gallons per person per day. It has been heartbreaking to learn what the residents have to go through every day. They think about water all the time — how to make it last a week. It means a person uses only a quarter-cup of water when brushing his or her teeth. Showering means pouring two gallons of water over one’s head, one more for washing one’s hair. Now that people know about this disaster — one that came after Marcellus Shale gas wells were drilled near the Woodlands — we can do something about it. Email waterforwoodlands//sites.google.com/site/waterforwoodlands. We can help make sure our neighbors have life’s most basic need: water.