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Article published February 12, 2013
‘Agenda’ is good water
Joseph P. McMurry Butler Township
In his Feb. 4 letter to the editor, “Advice for Woodlands,” Bruce M. Donaldson accuses impacted Woodlands residents and their supporters of lies and manipulation of facts regarding the Woodlands water woes to fit some undisclosed agenda. One agenda that I’m aware of in this situation is public health. Living without potable water is a public health issue. Another is social justice. Impact fees must be spent on the people and places impacted, not on budget shortfalls. On Jan. 14, I had a letter published in the Eagle that referenced news reports about multiple industrial chemicals having been found in post-drilling state Department of Environmental Protection water tests from the Woodlands and incomplete water tests found in file reviews of DEP data from the Woodlands. Based on this and other incidents, the state auditor general has ordered a performance audit of DEP’s Marcellus Shale operations. Are all of these news reports lies and manipulations? I also mentioned the admittedly circumstantial evidence that after each new round of drilling and fracking, there are additional families with tainted water. Why in the world would anyone make up stories like that? For money? If Donaldson had talked with his neighbors as much as I have, he would know that they want only one thing: good water for their homes. As far as drilling for water in the Woodlands is concerned, the Jan. 22 Butler Eagle article “Many wells are OK” related that not all areas of the Woodlands have tainted water, and so it is possible to drill good wells in many, but not all, areas of the Woodlands. The lab at Duquesne University where John Stolz, Ph.D., conducts his ongoing tests of Woodlands water is not a state-certified commercial testing lab. But Stolz is a highly regarded research scientist and the equipment he uses is of highest quality. His work can (and will) stand up to the most rigorous scientific scrutiny and academic peer reviews. My advice to Donaldson is to hang out with his neighbors more. He should volunteer at the Water for Woodlands distribution center. He should help his neighbors load their vehicles with this precious resource that he takes for granted. He should meet the three little boys who are so excited about getting their weekly allotment of water that you’d think each was getting a new bike. Maybe then his accusations of lies and manipulations wouldn’t come as easily to his lips. And, if I may comment on another item from the Feb. 4 Butler Eagle, I read with interest the article about XTO’s community advisory council regarding its natural gas operations in Butler County. I was happy to read that the company is committed to safety. It needs to be. According to DEP “violations per well by operator” data for 2012, XTO was cited for 24 violations at the 45 gas wells it drilled last year. Data are available at FracTracker.org.