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Montpelier spurns aquifer plan

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    Bryan, Ohio resident Mike Rychener protests before a village council meeting at the fire station in Montpelier on the Artesian of Pioneer water plan.

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    Indiana resident Andrea Hamman reads the Artesian of Pioneer water plans during a Montpelier village council meeting at the fire station in Montpelier.

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    Pioneer, Ohio Mayor Edward Kidston presents his Artesian of Pioneer water plan to the Montpelier village council during a meeting at the fire station in Montpelier.

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    Montpelier councilman Kevin Motter, left, listens to Pioneer, Ohio Mayor Edward Kidston answer his questions on the Artesian of Pioneer water plan during a Montpelier village council meeting at the fire station in Montpelier.

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    Todd Feenstra supports the Artesian of Pioneer water plan during the Montpelier village council meeting at the fire station in Montpelier.

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    Pioneer, Ohio Mayor Edward Kidston addresses his Artesian of Pioneer water plan to a full house during the Montpelier village council meeting at the fire station in Montpelier.

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    Pioneer, Ohio Mayor Edward Kidston, left, answers a water plan question by Montpelier councilman Kevin Motter during a Montpelier village council meeting.

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    Montpelier resident Kristina Hutchinson smiles as she listens to Pioneer, Ohio Mayor Edward Kidston answer her question regarding the Artesian of Pioneer water plan presented to the Montpelier village council.

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    Montpelier resident Joel VanDeVoorde, left, is monitored by Montpelier Mayor Steve Yagelski during a discussion on the Artesian of Pioneer water plan during a Montpelier village council meeting.

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MONTPELIER, Ohio — Add Montpelier to the list of communities telling Artesian of Pioneer to abort its mission to sell local water.

Montpelier village council voted Monday night to approve a resolution expressing concern over AOP’s plan to sell water from the Michindoh Aquifer to several suburbs and entities in northwest Ohio. Language was changed from “oppose” to “express concern.”

CEO Ed Kidston has discussed the idea and laid out plans with Maumee, Perrysburg, Sylvania, Northwestern Water and Sewer District, and others.

Montpelier Mayor Steve Yagelski agreed with the decision and asked if Mr. Kidston sleeps with a clear conscience.

“They are looking for the least expensive way to provide water for their residents,” Mayor Yagelski said. “They need to work together and come up with their own plan to fix their own problems. This is their problem, not ours.”

Mr. Kidston and hydrology expert Todd Feenstra were given 30 minutes to make their case at Monday’s meeting, which often turned contentious. Mr. Kidston reiterated portions of his plan, which include drilling at least two test wells and a production well, pumping them for 72 straight hours, and evaluating the results.

Mr. Kidston said an expert in Angola, Ind., told him 25 percent of each rainfall reaches the aquifer. He agrees, but admitted nobody knows the facts surrounding the Michindoh’s water supply without testing.

“We have to drill, test, and report back,” Mr. Kidston said. “That’s what this expert will tell you and that’s what I will tell you; we have to find the facts first.”

Mr. Kidston says experts tell him 290 billion gallons of water reach the aquifer each year. He said if all interested parties buy into the proposal, they would use 32 billion gallons a year.

Council then asked questions for 30 minutes. Councilman Cheri Streicher raised concerns about climate change and potential droughts.

“Well, what about a meteor strike,” Mr. Kidston responded. “I’m not a climate change expert; I’m a water expert. When you drill a well, they don’t change. I’m not going to say climate change exists or doesn’t; the jury’s still out. But if it’s real, we have just as strong a chance in this area to get 80 inches of rain [a year] instead of 34, as we go from 34 down to whatever.”

Montpelier residents were then given the opportunity to ask questions.

At least 50 protesters gathered on Main Street before the council meeting to show opposition to Mr. Kidston’s plan. Many held homemade signs, some of which read “Save our water,” and “Clean their water; don’t sell ours.” About 250 people attended the council meeting.

A common theme with protesters is not believing the math they hear from Mr. Kidston regarding rainfall and current water levels.

Stewart Rosendaul is a member of the Williams County Alliance, which has taken the lead on fighting plans to sell water from the aquifer.

“Morally, it’s a mistake. It’s our water; it’s not his water,” Mr. Rosendaul said. “There’s no law against it, but he’s going against everything that’s right.”

The alliance was present at a Bryan city council meeting last month where council unanimously passed a resolution opposing Pioneer’s plans. The resolution also passed in West Unity and Edgerton. 

Bryan resident Rose Hug was also in Montpelier Monday night to show her opposition.

“We were blessed with this aquifer through the glaciers and thousands of years,” Ms. Hug said. “I don’t agree with one man selling what is beneath all of us. Things don’t last forever. When our aquifer dries up, where do we draw our water from?”

Pioneer village council did not pass a similar resolution earlier this month. Mr. Kidston is the mayor of Pioneer.

Contact Jay Skebba at jskebba@theblade.com, 419-376-9414, or on Twitter @JaySkebba.

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