BUTLER (KDKA) – A year ago the Rex Energy Corporation started its “fracking” operations. About a mile from the site, 11 families living in the Woodlands neighborhood said they began having serious water issues.
Some houses may have a lot of water, but it is contaminated. Others may have no water at all.
Such is the case for Sheri Makepeace and her family. When they moved here nearly 12 years ago, the front yard did not feature a water buffalo.
“Initially when they first started to drill I noticed that there was a decline in our pressure,” said Makepeace.
Makepeace called the State Department of Environmental Protection and Rex Energy but got nowhere. The problem has continued to get worse and it is not easy with three children.
“It’s been incredibly hard. I mean there are times whenever you turn the faucet on and there would just be air spitting out of it,” she said.
In August, Rex Energy began providing water buffaloes to the affected families while testing went on. The Makepeace’s drilled down 400 feet, but had no luck finding water; a natural spring on their property went dry.
The public water supply is inaccessible.
DEP tests found that there is no evidence of surface or groundwater contamination due to of Rex’s drilling activity. This week Rex began removing the water buffaloes.
“They said they were sorry, that it was very unfortunate, but there was nothing that I could do. They told them to pull the water buffaloes,” said Makepeace.
Picking up the tab themselves from the supplier will cost more than $400 a month.
Jim Bauer says this part of the county has had substandard water for years. He has had Marcellus Shale Drilling on his farm, and doesn’t think much of the complaining.
“Personally, probably, it’s people that are not benefiting from the wells,” he said.
Rex Energy says it is still actively investigating, but according to scientific data and a battery of tests, natural gas development has not impacted the water quality.
“No, this has nothing to do with money. I just want water. I just want to make my kids some buttered noodles, give them a bath, flush our toilets. I just want to be able to have water,” said Makepeace.