By Rosemary Pollock
Water Trouble with LDS Farm Worsens
SAGINAW, MICHIGAN -- The number of households without water grew from 36 to
68 in the western part of Saginaw county on Friday as the Saginaw County
Department of Public Health rejected one large scale irrigator's water
management plan. According to Kevin W. Datte, the county's environmental
health director, the county also dismissed parts of a proposal from The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while accepting Clio-based
Walther &Sons Farm's plan.
Datee strongly suspects the two farms water usage has caused the problem for
most households within a mile and a half of the irrigation operations.
Affected property owners live in Fremont, Jonesfield, Lakefield and Richland
townships. The county has no legal enforcement authority but could seek a
court injunction if the farms do not meet the demands of their neighbors.
Brent W. Schindler, an attorney for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints said, "We are very engaged and active in being responsive to the
neighbors." Schindler, an Auburn lawyer and Bishop in the Church, claims
that Datte is relying on "erroneous information." U.S. Geological Survey
data shows that the farms, run by Walther &Sons and The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, have stayed within the voluntary usage limits.
"We have also agreed we would water only at night and only water corn and
beans instead of the more thirsty sugar beet crop," Schindler said. Datte
has accepted the Church's offer to financially replace the wells of families
Kathleen M. Benjamin of Lakefield Township lives near the Walther Farm and
believes over consumption is the reason behind her problem. Benjamin and her
family haven't had water since Monday. "It's the hottest weather of the
year," Benjamin said. "We can't flush our toilet, we can't wash our hands
after we use the toilet unless we have a jug of water." "This is ridiculous,
do I have to spend $5,000 for a new well, which is what my neighbors are
The U.S. Geological Society will complete a $100,000 ground water well study
in the area in September. "These wells are fine the whole year until they
start irrigating, " Benjamin added.
More county wells run dry
Saginaw MI News 12Aug01 B1
By Barrie Barber
The tally is 68 and climbing even as a church voluntarily regulates its irrigation.
LDS Church's Saginaw Farm Draws Fire from Neighbors Over Water Use