Investigator Exclusive: Water shortage may impact Cleveland grocery prices

9:34 AM, Aug 3, 2010   |    comments
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More than a dozen farmers and residents who live near West Salem have experienced problems with their wells as a result of the plant, which was switched on six months ago.

One Amish family said water used to bubble out of their well and into a nearby tub for cows. Now, they're forced to use a motorized pump to draw the water up from the well to give the cows a drink.

As for irrigating the fields, they simply can't. The farmer lost a whole field of cantaloupe as a result.

"Everybody's being affected," said Ralph Shorts, whose well is running below capacity. "The Amish? They're going to be out of business. It's been a big problem."

It's a problem that could end up costing Clevelanders more because many of the farmers sell their fruits, vegetables and meats to supermarkets here.

Without water to irrigate the fields or water the animals, the farmers said they anticipate having less to sell and charging more for what they do have.

Tony Brown lives just past the village limits, a short jaunt through those fields. His well tapped out last week.

"I've had to move my wife and kids down to my in-laws' house so we can shower and wash our clothes," said Tony Brown. "A couple houses...ran out three-and-a-half weeks ago, about a quarter mile from the well."

The village built the water plant based on a geological survey by Worthington-based Eagon & Associates Inc, which estimated the plant could pump up to 200 gallons of well water per minute without any problems, said West Salem Administrator Rick Witucki.

But after farmers and others complained last month -- even though the plant was only running at half capacity -- the village conducted its own survey.

"Our numbers did not match (Eagon & Associates') numbers when it came to testing," Witucki said. "Our wells weren't regenerating like they should be and our water level was just continuing to drop and not come back up."

Witucki said he will meet with the firm this week to determine "why are our numbers so different? What's the problem? Who dropped the ball?"

Eagon & Associates did not return a call for comment.

The village is also in the process of purchasing well water from another town and running it to their plant so they can continue to use it.

As for the dry wells, Witucki said he hopes they will fully replenish, now that the plant is shut down.  


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