Residents fighting to protect water

Courtesy Photo The Save Our Water Committee is fighting to protect the wells and water in the area of New Garden, Franklin and London Britain townships.

Several years ago, a well was built near the intersection of Broad Run and Newark roads, just about 150 feet from the Broad Run Creek. Now, Artesian Water wants to own the well and use it to pump water to its customers, which local residents are afraid are mostly in Delaware.

To try and rally against Artesian, locals Marion and Jane Waggoner started the Save Our Water Committee and has been attracting members and petition signatures.

“The well had originally been put in to supply water for one of the Wilkinson developments,” Marion Waggoner said. “Around 2002, Artesian purchased the rights for the well from the Wilkinsons. There apparently was going to be a transfer of the permit that existed on the well over to Artesian.”

Artesian says their use of the well will benefit residents of Delaware and Pennsylvania.

“According to public records, they only had 38 customers up in the Pennsylvania and Broad Run development,” Marion Waggoner said.

Earlier this year, Artesian did an aquifer test on the well and, during the test, extracted more than 600,000 gallons of water at a rate of 200 gallons per minute.

“Most of that water would obviously have to go over to Delaware because you can’t use that much in 38 homes,” Marion Waggoner said.

The residents of the area have been concerned over Artesian taking control of the well, which led to the creation of the Save Our Water Committee.

The committee has formed a list of three major concerns over Artesian:

• Most of the private wells, which about half the residents of New Garden Township has and almost all of Franklin and London Britain townships have, contains an on-site disposal system. All the water used goes back into the septic system and returns to the aquifer. “The only real load on the aquifer right now is what is used in the local agriculture industry,” Marion Waggoner said. “If (Artesian) goes in and puts in an additional load of water that goes out of here, (it) might very well cause both the mushroom industry and private wells to run short on water.”

• Due to the location of the well in a deep valley near the Broad Run Creek, it could have a significant impact on the stream flow, especially during a drought. “There’s potentially a huge, negative impact on the ecosystem associated with Broad Run Creek and the White Clay Creek,” Marion Waggoner said.

• A commercial well on that spot is in violation of the Township’s ordinances, which does not permit commercial activity on any land zoned R-1. “There are a number of things in the ordinances that would be in conflict here,” Marion Waggoner said.

If the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approves it, the Waggoners believe it would set a bad precedent for the area.

“It would say that the state government has overridden the local ordinances and it means this could happen elsewhere,” Marion Waggoner said. “This might be just the first commercial well, if that were the case.”

The Save Our Water Committee has been holding montly meetings since April at the New Garden Township building and the residents have been showing up out of concern and to show their support against Artesian.

They also have drafted letters to send to government officials and have a petition going around. As of June 30, there are over 1,000 signatures on the petition.

“These are coming from, most generally, New Garden Township, but we also have approximately 300 signatures in London Britain and 150 in Franklin,” Jane Waggoner said. “Not only because of this well, but if they were to move in their (townships) and drill in farmer’s ground.”

As of now, Artesian is in a holding pattern as they send its test results to the DEP and because of that, the committee is also on hold until information is released. The plan, as of now, is to hold a meeting near the end of July or the beginning of August.

All the Waggoners know is that, if the outcome is in Artesian’s favor, they will continue to fight.

“Water is something that has become a valuable commodity and it’s the new gold,” Jane Waggoner said. “It’s a big issue all over the world, not just here in New Garden Township.

For more information on the Save Our Water Committee, you may visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/867600473253626/, e-mail them at save_our_water@verizon.net or through the mail at Save Our Water, P.O. Box 125, Landenberg, PA 19350.

About the Author

Candice Monhollan

Candice Monhollan is a 2012 Temple University graduate. She loves to cover sports, especially hockey. She enjoys marching with the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps and has a love of U.S. military history, which includes reenacting. Reach the author at cmonhollan@dailylocal.com .