It’s unclear if the proposed high-capacity well in Utica Township will be permitted in a manner that will agree with landowner Darrell Long’s business plans for the water he hopes to extract.
Long is a podiatrist and financial services consultant in Lima Ohio, who owns a parcel of land about five miles west of Mt. Sterling just off highway 171. His proposed high capacity well would be immediately adjacent to Copper Creek, a high quality trout stream. The initial high-capacity well permit application stated the purpose of the well would be to meet emergency water needs and supply water for emergency bottling purposes with an extraction rate of up to 500,000 gallons per day.
After a strong negative community reaction, organized public comment and submission of independent scientific analysis challenging hydrogeologic data used in the permit analysis, the Department of Natural Resources amended the pending permit approval with restrictions lowering the amount of maximum daily withdrawal to 250,000 gallons daily and limiting the area where the water could be shipped to 80 miles.
Long indicated in a recent interview that his plans have changed and are now focused on selling the water for bottling purposes. However, Long has not altered his application, according to Larry Lynch, a DNR hydrogeologist.
“If the purpose and proposed use of the well changes before the approval is issued, the owner should notify the DNR and describe the proposed changes. The DNR would review the changes and determine what degree of additional analysis is needed,” Lynch said.
“In Darrel Long's case, the approval would be written in such a way that the well could only be used as an emergency or back-up source of water for other water users in the area (as described in the draft conditions I distributed last summer). If he wants to do something else with the well and does not notify us before issuance of the approval, he would need to seek a modification of the approval.”
Long could not be reached for comment on the situation.
Once the permit is in place, it appears Long will still need to apply to Utica Township for either a conditional use permit or zoning change before he can legally begin a business operation of the well.