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If I lose my water I lose my farm

Ohio Environmental Council, October 2, 2015

As a farmer and a father, Alex Dragovich has concerns about fracking.

Alex owns and operates a 30-acre organic farm in Northeastern Ohio. If you’re lucky enough to ever visit his farm, you’ll see tidy vegetable beds of greens and beets, beautiful brown hens laying eggs, antique farm equipment, and horses running down a hillside pasture. This place is special. And unfortunately, not too many farms like it are still around in Ohio. Small farms struggle to compete in the age of industrial agriculture.

“If I lose my water, I lose my farm,” Alex says. He fears that the chemicals involved in deep-well hydraulic fracturing around his land could poison his water supply.

His fears are not unfounded. Fracking accidents involving chemical spills and poor well construction are well documented. In fact, a recent US EPA study showed several specific cases of water contamination from fracking.

Alex’s livelihood depends on his farm. He can’t afford to lose his crops. But, his biggest concern is the health of his family. He worries that one day he’ll be forced to move, leaving behind his memories and the place where he raised his four children.

Like many places in shale country, Alex’s community has been bombarded with propaganda from the oil and gas industry. Large companies pay millions to market fracking as a boon to local economies. These communities hear much less about the public health risks associated with fracking, and the reasonable protections needed to better safeguard Ohioans’ health and well-being.

Under Ohio law, fracking companies are not required to disclose all the chemicals they use. This has understandably led to some mistrust and fear in the communities where fracking is most prevalent. “We need to make these chemicals public knowledge,” Alex says.

Alex has contacted his elected officials and the Ohio EPA about his concerns. He wants to see stronger protections in place, and more transparency about the fracking process.

While his land hasn’t been tapped for any projects yet, Alex says he knows it’s a matter of time. “All I can do is protect what’s very important to me,” he says.

With more transparency from oil and gas companies and more accountability from Ohio legislators and agencies, all Ohioans can better protect what’s important to us.

Learn more about our plans to address Alex’s and many other Ohioans’ concerns about fracking. And if you want to get involved in the movement to act on fracking, sign up here.