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Action on water testing law put off

A public hearing on a proposed law in Holland that would require well water testing by companies drilling or doing hydraulic fracturing in the town brought out concerned residents Wednesday night, and action was postponed based on objections from National Fuel Gas.

Supervisor Michael Kasprzyk said the new law would require developers of oil or gas to test surrounding wells within a 1,500-foot radius of a drilling site so that a baseline water quality level could be established for those wells.

Four hundred residents rely on the municipal well in the hamlet, while more than 1,000 other residents rely on individual wells for their water.

Answering several questions, the supervisor said the new ordinance would apply to both vertical and the more controversial horizontal wells, but would not address storage of back flow in pits.

He noted that it would require a company to remedy any damage caused to local highways because of drilling equipment brought in.

Resident Henry Secord asked what would happen if a drilling operation contaminated wells. He was not satisfied when the supervisor said the new law would require the company to remedy it.

"It can't be done," Secord said. "The chemicals are a thousand feet below the ground. I wouldn't let them do fracking anywhere near here."

The board did not vote on the measure because of a letter the town received Tuesday from National Fuel Gas. The utility said the town does not have the authority to pass such restrictions into law.

Specifically, National Fuel stated, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requires a much smaller radius for testing.

The matter was referred to legal counsel for further review.

In other matters, the board scheduled a public hearing for 8 p.m. June 13 on a proposed local law to regulate garage sales in the town, particularly the frequency and number of days for a particular sale.

Also, the supervisor said the town is recommending that the town's three election districts be revised by Erie County to better balance the population. Kasprzyk said he will suggest that about 80 residents on South Protection Road be moved from District One to District Three.