Skip to content

Silence broken: “Fouled Waters: Woodlands Residents Search for Ways to Survive Without Clean Water”

August 20, 2012

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describes in detail the daily struggle for clean water suffered by Janet McIntyre’s family and a dozen other families in the Woodlands, Connoquenessing Township, Butler County. The front page story, Sunday August 19th 2012, is the first major mainstream print media story about a set of impacted families about whom we’ve written ten press releases (each sent to over 300 journalists statewide) and seven blog posts since August 2011, in addition to providing emergency water for residents for the past five months. We read Janet McIntyre’s statement to the press 11 months ago at the Shale Gas Outrage press conference and hand-delivered, and read out loud, Kim McEvoy’s letter to Governor Corbett to the governor’s Philadelphia office, with 1,500 marchers providing backup, on September 7th 2011. Other than Susan Phillips’ excellent reporting for StateImpact, we’ve seen nothing like this coverage for the entire 20 months that these families have been suffering. We leave it to the rest of the print media to examine their extraordinary silence.

Erich Schwartzel of the Post-Gazette reports:

If Janet McIntyre needs to shower and can’t drive the 11 miles to her son’s house, she steps outside and undresses. Her husband puts on a rain poncho and pours three gallons of water over her as she hides behind a shower curtain hanging between two cars that sit in their yard.

Before Kim McEvoy watched her home value plummet and moved to one with public water, she went behind rhododendron plants to urinate. Her fiance used bushes along the other side of the house — the “men’s room.”


And when the time comes to refill the tank that provides clean water to her home, Barb Romito waits to see if her anonymous donor has pulled through once again and paid the $125 fee needed twice a month to keep her faucets flowing.

These and other lifestyle adjustments started in the Woodlands neighborhood about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh after January 2011, when residents started calling each other with the same story: Water from their wells was running brown or black with floating pieces of solid material in it, and it smelled awful. When they showered, they got rashes. When they drank, they threw up. The farm show rabbits Russ Kelly keeps behind his house even stopped drinking the water.

Read more:

These are the families the Protecting Our Waters Emergency Water Fund has been serving for the past five months. The Fund ran out this past week, and despite repeated public appeals, remained dry as the time to re-fill the families’ water buffaloes. By the time we secured a last-minute $250 donation last Friday, Janet McIntyre had gotten so worried that she paid $375 cash out of her own — extraordinarily shallow — pocket to make sure that the families which depend on their water buffaloes (tanks to hold clean water) being filled once a month by the Protecting Our Waters “Water LOVE” (Life’s Offering in a Vital Emergency, named by Janet McIntyre) fund, could depend on the August water delivery.

Please read the full story, including photos and a moving video.

Then take a glance at this comment posted by a worker, on the Post-Gazette online responding to “Fouled Waters”:

I worked for a short time hauling initially “fresh water” for the [fracking]wells, later hauling the most awful stench laden material that couldn’t even be imagined. Took this stench from West Va and depositied it in a pond outside of Waynesburg, PA called the “Gribble Pad”. Their were a few mobile homes at the base of this site and I am sure these folks living there, were not aware of the vile liquid being deposited above their homes. This was all done through the wee hours of the night and NO security at the site. I experienced several of these sites during my employ. What a farce this drilling and fracking is…This matter is so out of control at this point wether you live in West Va, Pa or Ohio…

You can read the rest of this and other comments along with the full story here.

Then come to Shale Gas Outrage, one month from today in Philadelphia from 12 noon – 2 pm, outside the Convention Center where the fracking industry elites are gathering, to show the industry how angry we are about their foul practices. People should not have to live like this in Pennsylvania, or anywhere in the Marcellus Shale Region or our country, in 2012. Come to protect our future. Come to protect our air, our water, our land, our communities, and our health. Come to reclaim our democracy.

And please, if you can, donate to provide the water PA DEP, Rex Energy, and the EPA refuses to provide despite repeated, loud and clear requests for over a year. Every dollar helps! we only need $375 total each month to provide essential clean water for the Woodlands families that need it most — so that we can assure the families NOW — families with small children, families including people with disabilities and health conditions, families that are paying once a month to fill their own water buffaloes and just counting on the POW Water LOVE fund once a month — that they are covered for September and October and, hopefully, beyond. Not a dime of the money goes for Protecting Our Waters’ education, advocacy, administrative work or overhead. It goes for water. And it’s 501(c) tax deductible.

Janet McIntrye’s dog died bleeding on her kitchen floor after drinking the water that made her family vomit. We don’t know if we can provide the ultimate scientific proof that shale gas drilling contamination killed her dog, but we certainly can prove that seventeen cows died in agony bleeding from both ends after drinking fracking fluid that was 99.5% water. Over one hundred and thirty cows’ deaths have been documented in excruciating detail by a veterinarian research team. Workers have been killed by exposure to hydrogen sulfide and other deadly chemicals on the job. A huge compressor station is being built in Susquehanna County right now while PA DEP continues to pretend each compressor station is a single source, with no cumulative impacts. The industry is applying for twenty compressor station permits in Pennsylvania in this two-week period. The speed, scope, intensity and destructiveness of shale gas development in PA is beyond insane. Climate change is here and shale gas fracking is worse for climate than coal, shallow gas, or oil, on the twenty year time frame. How many warning signs do we need that this industry is out of control?

  1. pj slomer permalink
    August 20, 2012 12:11 pm

    The “Water Emergency Fund” and “Water LOVE” links within the article took me to a non-functioning page. I had to click on the “Clean Water Now” button and access a link within the article to make the donation.

  2. Iris Marie Bloom permalink
    August 20, 2012 1:33 pm

    Thanks so much! We will fix that instantly. Really appreciate the heads-up and the material support for these families who need relief in the form of clean water, clean air, peace of mind, and support.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: