The Kiss of Life

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

In light of ongoing issues concerning the Tires to Energy Plant and the Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling Operations, private citizens, along with land owners and horse lovers should become aware of these important topics. Seen in the headlines, they may affect your local water supplies as to availability and purity of content.

Climate change and drought are also seen in recent headlines.

The Tires to Energy Plant proposes to build a site out in Greenwood Township, burning tires and converting them to electrical energy, which will be sold to buyers.

The issue was in litigation, as some private citizens sued over DEP test results and questions about air pollution. Local citizens fought for information and had private testing done at their own expense, and these numbers did not match up with test results given to the public.

An aquifer near the Geneva Marsh will be tapped to supply water for the plant, consuming millions of gallons per day:

Let’s start with company estimates of 1,400,000 gallons of water a day.

This is 9,800,000 gallons a week and 509,600,000 gallons of water a year.

Steam generated in two “circulating fluidized bed units” will be used to drive a turbine to produce electricity, which will be sold on the market.

No one, including the developers and the media, has mentioned whether there will be any left over “used”water that needs to be expelled.

“Research” is showing a large aquifer located underneath the Geneva Marsh, with “researchers” stating there is no chance of the aquifer going dry.

The company name is Crawford Renewable Energy.

You, as a horse person or possibly a land owner, should get educated on the Tire Plant, to stay informed on this important issue.

The Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling Operations continue to make headlines, also.

New technology allows horizontal drilling, thus locating the natural gas locked in the Marcellus or Utica Shale, some 5,500 to 9,000 feet down.

The hydraulic “fracking” process the turns in a horizontal direction, pumping chemicals and water into the rock, pulling and freeing the natural gas back to the well head.

Spillage by accidents or tanker trucks is a grave concern, as is seepage of chemicals or methane into natural or man made fissures deep in the earth.

The story of “Paradise Lost” tells of a family out in eastern PA., who have a summer house where they liked to go to enjoy the view and the greenery.

Due to Marcellus Shale gas drilling, the greenery has turned a dull brown, as everything is dead.

The well water is contaminated and cows who drank the water are now on a two year moratorium, put on a feed lot and are not allowed to be milked nor slaughtered for consumption, until the effects of the toxic water are known.

The KDKA website out of Pittsburgh has information about tap water in that area being lit on fire as it comes out of the spigot.

Even if you as a land owner do not want drilling on your place, your neighbor may opt to drill.

The poor economy makes development of these industries easy, as people are desperate for money.

The horizontal gas drilling practices can go under your property, eventually risking your well water supply to contamination and poisons: Hydrochloric acid is used in the “adicification process” of breaking up the shale, along with other chemicals, such as benzene and toluene.

The waste water that comes back out is extremely salty, often called “brine.”

Townships have been severely limited by the state in what they can do to protect themselves, due to the Act #13 Mandate, and the state has essentially paved the way for drillers to come in to rural farms and communities to set up heavy industrial operations.

They are also now permitted to drill in our public hunting land, without a vote from the citizens of PA.

The local Pymatuning Lake is a large, (natural) resource that helps the local economy with fishing and boating, hiking, restaurants and camping.

Local Supervisor Boards are expressing concern over this natural resource possibly becoming contaminated due to the Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling operations.

They are strongly urging all citizens to have their private water wells tested.

Call the DEP in Meadville, at 814-332-6860 for referral to unbiased, third party water well testing.

PSATS, or PA. State Association of Township Supervisors has a website with information and a video on Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling.

Or, go to the website of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and click “Pipeline,”- -

This newspaper has had excellent coverage of the shale drilling issue.

Everyone, including land owners and horsemen alike, should become very aware of their local water supplies and possible contamination of wells, due to industrial development by large companies that use tremendous amounts of fresh, free water.

T. Boone Pickens is currently combing our nation, buying up water rights.

It is realistic that you yourself could be paying $4.00 dollars a gallon for clean, fresh water.

Open frack waste ponds and PCP’s and benzene, known as “total dissolved solids,” are being left behind at drill sites and are contributing to air and water pollution.

Land owners should be very wary of signing contracts, as a lot of rights can be signed away, including mineral rights and the right to sue should property damage occur.

Land owners are encouraged to get their wells tested right now, immediately, and keep the results with other important documents.

The next few years are going to see a lot of major changes to your local area landscapes and water supplies.

The Appalachian Geophysical Survey Co. is currently testing for gas at sites in Conneaut Township.

Halcon Resources, from Houston TX, is currently drilling a Utica Shale well on my family farm at Bentley and Bullis Roads.

You should take a drive past and look at it; that was one of my hay fields.

Attending your local Township Supervisor Board meetings can help you to stay informed on these very important issues.

Seismic testing involves using dynamite blasting caps, boring drills dig a deep shaft and these are stuffed with the caps.

The blasting caps are ignited and a test is conducted, much like a sonogram, looking for natural gas.

Several landowners were at the Conneaut Board meeting on October 12th, 2011, complaining that AGS Co. had clear cut their trees and left blasting caps laying around on their property.

Rocks were stuffed down the holes once testing was completed.

Now is the time to become informed on these issues, attend the public meetings and look at the website.

I have titled this article “The Kiss of Life,” because water really is just that.

CN runs it every few months or so, I feel it is so important, that it should be printed again.

The money to be made by the few on gas wells and rights is staggering.

However, even if you have a million dollars in the bank, you can’t drink it, nor can your children or animals. Nor can you cook or bathe in it.

You and other living things can survive a little longer without food, but without water, everything will perish, as crops need water to grow

Please give what you are reading some serious thought: No water, no life.

Everyone enjoys a sip of fresh, cool water. Most horse people in Crawford County have a private source for their water.

They own private wells dug by professional well drillers and the wells are very prevalent in the County, since it is rural and agricultural.

While animals seem to be able to drink from streams, ponds or puddles, we humans would become quite sick should we attempt to quench our thirst from one of these sources.

I will discuss private wells and water sources.

Unused wells, springs and cisterns require other maintenance and care, and are beyond the scope of this article.

Private wells, and the horse people who own them, have an amenity available to them known as never-freeze yard hydrants, in or near their barn.

The fresh water source for these hydrants comes from the owner’s private well and hoses can be hooked up to them to fill buckets in the barn, or big troughs out in the field. It is very convenient not to have to haul buckets from house to barn.

It is important to scrub water buckets daily and to drain and scrub troughs or tubs if the water becomes dirty or filled with algae.

Algae can be toxic to horses, so never leave water in troughs stagnate long enough to start growing algae.

Remember, your horse is no different from you when it comes to taking a drink of fresh water, so give him plenty every day.

Your private well, which is your drinking water resource, should be in a good location, be properly constructed and be maintained by yearly observations and water tests.

If you are purchasing a house with a private well, have that well tested. (1)

Did you know that Pennsylvania has no state regulations requiring private well owners to test or maintain their wells?

The main thing you should test for annually is coliform bacteria.

These bacteria may come from Ag operations.

Another water test is available is for PH levels and TDS, or “Total Dissolved Solids.”

If your private well is located near heavily salted roadways or other local activities, this test should be done every three years. (2, 3)

Run-off (chemicals) may leach into ground water and cause contamination.

All water tests should be done by a certified lab.

For information on tests and labs, call 1-888-DEP-SAFE, or check the web at, (4)

The location of your water well should be at least 100 feet away from any pastures, barnyards, cesspools or manure pits, and on-lot sewage system absorption fields. It should be at least 25 feet from a silo and 50 feet away from septic tanks and sewers. (5)

Other contaminants are factories, dumps or landfills, gas drilling operations and coal mining.

Be aware of local activities, also, that may ruin your well; these are very real possibilities.

Attending your local Township Supervisor meetings can keep you apprised of zoning changes or intended land uses in your area.

Keeping your well area clean from junk and debris, along with keeping it accessible for maintenance is a good idea. (6)

Watch the use of pesticides and fertilizers, these are potential contaminants. New farming methods, such as no till, no cultivate, seem to use a lot of weed killer and pesticides; there is speculation as to the absorption of these chemicals into the ground water.

What do you think of this?

All good well maintenance is essential to you, your family’s and your horse’s health.

To prevent rodents, insects or surface contaminants from getting into the well, place a sanitary well cap at the top of the casing, and all casings should be at least 8 inches above the ground.

If you lose your well to pollution or contaminants, you are in for the hassle of your life!

You will have to drill a new one or find a spring or other water source. You will have to divert the run-off (pollutants) or install water treatment devices, such as filters and chemicals.

Another option is installing a “water buffalo.”

Local resident Ronnie Staab, from Espyville, has completed the Master Well Owner Training Workshop, sponsored by Penn State, at Headwaters Park in Erie, Pa.

He states the following: “It is very important for people to conserve their fresh water; it is not an endless resource.

World wide, amounts and supplies of fresh drinking water are diminishing. Water conservation is imminent.

“Good, fresh water wells are like a buried treasure and should be treated as such.”

Congratulations to Mr. Staab, he is now a “Master Well Owner.”

Water is the next hot commodity.

Why do think “Dubbya” went and bought an entire water shed down in South America?

Yes, the entire thing.

Go on out and check your horse’s water right now.

Keep it clean, clean, clean, and never take for granted your horse and his companionship, or the fresh water supply that both he and you must have in order to survive.

The information presented herein is meant as a guideline and not private well or fresh water analysis. Always consult a certified lab if you think your private well may be contaminated.

Enjoy the amazing winter in all of its silvery glory, folks, and enjoy the peaceful countryside and fresh air.

Everything in life goes by like a beautiful, snow-covered field; just a glimpse of peace, beauty, sky and tree that will be gone like a rosy sunset before you know it.

Leaving you for now, to revel in the wonder of it all, to the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

(1, 2, 3) Best Management Practices for Private Water Systems: Guide to Proper Maintenance of Private Water Wells. Penn State Master Well Owner Network.

(4, 5, 6) Private Water System Management. Penn State Recommendations: Guide for Private Water System Owners in Pa., Penn State Master Well Owner Network.