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Sent on Mormon-News: 22Aug01

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 without water.

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 doing?"

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.

See also:

LDS Church's Saginaw Farm Draws Fire from Neighbors Over Water Use


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