32 Families to be Evicted Due to SRBC Approval of Water Use for Drilling
The fallout from allowing drilling companies to have virtual free reign in Pennsylvania hits too close to home in a small community just days after the Susquehanna River Basin Commission voted on and approved water withdrawal permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing.
David Thompson reports on the short notice eviction of the 32-unit mobile home community in the article “32-unit Village No More” for the Williamsport- Sun Gazette. Thompson begins:
For the past 38 years, Doris M. Fravel has called the Riverdale Mobile Home Village in Piatt Township her home. Now 82, Fravel, a widow, recently received news that left her shocked and anxiety-ridden.
Former park owner Richard A. “Skip” Leonard told residents he sold the 37-unit park to Aqua PVR LLC. The company, whose parent company is Bryn Mawr-based Aqua America, plans to eliminate the park and build a water withdrawal facility to be used by the natural gas industry.
On Thursday, the company received permission from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water per day from the site. The water will be transported via pipeline to gas drilling sites located to the north of the township.
A letter from Leonard to the residents, dated Feb. 23 – the day the deal closed, according to Donna P. Alston, director of communication for Aqua America, the developer’s parent company – told the residents their leases were terminated “immediately.”
Thompson continues on to the burdens that the residents, uprooted from their homes, are now faced with:
A letter to residents from Prudential Hodrick Realty, which was hired by the developer to assist residents in relocating, said the company planned to begin work on the project in May.
The letter stated the developer would provide residents with a $2,500 incentive payment if they moved by April 1, a $1,500 payment if they moved by May 1.
Dorothy Keeler was skeptical many residents could take advantage of the offer to be out of the park by April 1. The first incentive benchmark gave residents less than three weeks to move, Keeler said.
Even with the incentive payment, many residents will be unable to leave, according to Eck. “Some of us can’t leave,” she said. “We can’t afford to move our trailers.”
Eck said quotes from mobile home movers have put the cost of moving the trailers at between $5,000 and $12,000.
Resident Bonnie Knarr, who has lived at the park for three years, said she received a quote of between $5,000 and $10,000. Some of the quotes do not include the moving of porches, patio, oil tanks or equipment sheds.
“If we’re out in less than three weeks, they’ll give us $2,500,” Keeler said incredulously. “That $2,500 isn’t going to (help much) when you can’t move your deck or shed.”
Thompson’s article provides a troubling glimpse into how gas drilling is not just fracturing the earth beneath our feet but also the communities and lives that sit on top of it. He closes with a comment from a resident, who sheds light on the gravity of their harsh reality:
Diane Smith said she is angry and other residents are, too. Smith, who has lived at the park for 14 years, said the stressfulness of her predicament is something that is with her every waking hour.
“It’s the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you think of when you go to bed at night,” Smith said. “This affects your work. This affects everything in your life. I don’t know where I’m going to go.”
“This is my home,” she said. “These are not just structures. They are homes.”