Saturday, December 18, 2010


Most of Thursday's meeting of the Canton Water Commission (Commission), a body put together on the authority of Canton City Council, was about ways and means to achieve economic development for Canton with its major asset: water.

The elephant in the room was the group of Stark County activists (e.g. Plain Township Trustee Lou Giavasis, Plain Township civic activist Chris Borello [president of the Concerned Citizens of Lake Township] et cetera)

Though Schulman, as chairman of the Commission) acknowledges their presence, he is somewhat dismissive of them in the sense of the need to spend much time hearing them.  Why would he relegate them to a subordinate role?

First, Schulman and the rest of Canton government are desperate to find ways for Canton to turn around the city's economic hard times.  It is interesting to note that in the discussion as it materialized on Thursday, it produced the fact that Canton now has a water system designed to serve 250,000 residents.

What is the population of Canton now?  Under 80,000 (the population according to year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau) for sure.  How much under?  We will know for sure on Tuesday as that is the date that the 2010 census figures are to be released.

So there is clearly an excess of sellable water capacity.  But what is the market?  As one Commission panel member queried; what is the draw for businesses to relocate to Canton for its water?  The same member made the point that unless the cost of water where a business is presently located is dramatically affecting the "bottom line" of the business, then, it is unlikely that cheap and plentious water will be a lure to new business coming to Canton/Stark County.

Second, Schulman has decided that there is no issue on fracking and, apparently, because there is a "clear threat ... water supplies" and it should not be allowed anywhere near where people draw drinking supplies from.  Here are the contents of an e-mail that the SCPR received from him on December 10th:

alkie has left a new comment on your post "KIRK SCHURING TO SCPR: THE OHIO DEPT OF NATURAL R...":
Martin...Good job on getting to the bottom of this story. In fact, by all accounts there is a new " gold rush " for gas in our area. What I have heard is that there is $35 BILLION of Chinese money financing this attack on our communities. Fracking is a clear threat to our water supplies. Go Plain trustees !! Schuring should be ashamed.

Allen Schulman
Despite Schulman's predetermination of the matter, one member of the Commission (Dennis Saunier of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce) did bring the safety/unsafety of fracking up.  But again, Schulman brushed Saunier's "there's another side" point aside as if to say that the Commission was not going to spend its time determining whether or not fracking is safe.  It is ipso facto, unsafe near water sources and that's that!

Schluman may find himself under pressure in future meetings of the Commission to allow pros and cons on fracking.

There is Canton Councilwoman Mary Cirelli for Schulman to have to deal with.  Mary agrees with the chairman's assessment that fracking per se is too dangerous to drinking water supplies to be allowed to proceed, however, she is developing a forum in city council for argument.

And there are those who may be coming to the Commission meetings and to city council meetings to express a "contrary to Schulman and Cirelli" point of view.

From "" (which services nearby Portage County) is an excerpt from a letter to the editor which indicates that opposition to the anti-fracking folks may be coming to Stark County on the premise that what occurs in one place (especially, a nearby one; is likely to find its way to your doorstep):

Our research shows that more than 1 million wells have been drilled in the United States using the "fracking" technology with less than 1 pecrent causing problems of any kind. The federal EPA in 2004 conducted an exhaustive study about "fracking" and found no environmental impact or safety issues.
Nonetheless, using political pressure environmental groups intended to stop the drilling regardless of the economic consequences or the facts. We in Ohio cannot allow that to happen.
To bring balance to this debate, the Portage County TEA Party will commit to bring in industry and government experts to Portage County to answer citizens' questions and provide the facts about this technology early next year. We will announce a schedule in January. 
If something is wrong with a technology, we don't throw it away or just stop using it, we fix it. That's what Americans do. We need to start drilling in Ohio and in Portage County and we can and will do it safely. The future of our state and our nation depends upon it.
Tom Zawistowski,
Executive Director,
Portage County TEA Party
The question becomes whether or not the Stark County Tea Party follows suit on the cue from their brothers and sisters in Portage?

However, there is more credible opposition than from the tea partiers.  The SCPR has spoken with a number of Stark County-based elected officials who are a lot less clear than Allen Schulman on the danger of fracking to area drinking water supplies.

One points out that 80,000 wells have been drilled in Ohio without significant incident.  Another says there is nothing in life without risk and the "real" question is whether or not the risk from fracking is sufficient to warrant bans on the procedure.

Others such as state Senator Kirk Schuring are trying to stay neutral on the topic, so he says.  One has to wonder how neutral he is given the fact that he (also Oelslager, Okey, Schiavoni, Slesnick and Snitchler) voted for legislation in March of this year and back in 2004 (Schuring, Oelslager and Hagan) to take away what little authority Ohio's cities, villages and townships had to deal with oil and natural gas drilling issues. 

It could be that Canton under the leadership of Schulman and Cirelli and Plain Township (Giavasis) will follow the lead of Olmsted Falls.  The Report hears that  Olmsted Falls has told the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to stay out of the city with their well-drilling permitting function and oversight.  It seems that the ODNR is losing the confidence of a number local government entities in terms of ODNR protecting drinking water supplies.

What good will come of the Canton Water Commission in its economic development aspect?

The Stark County Political Report believes very little, if anything, will materialize in terms of finding new ways to market Canton's excess water supply to its profit.

For one thing, any profits must stay within the Canton Water Department as the department's operation, from a financial perspective, is an "enterprise zone."  Being an enterprise zone means that it is self-sufficient in that it charges a fee for service and product to keep financially afloat.

At Thursday's meeting department head Tyler Converse did point out that the department's infrastructure (pipes, pumps and other equipment) is aging and will need mega dollars to keep facilities up to date.

However, money cannot flow from the department to Canton's general fund.

While the SCPR hopes for the sake of Canton there is more prospect to turning its water asset into cash for the city's overall financial viability; such does not seem to be the case.  Nonetheless, Canton City Council, Allen Schulman (council president) and Mary Cirelli are to be applauded for the look-see at possibilities.

Who knows?  Maybe someone involved in the Canton Commission process will have an eureka moment and come up with for Canton's gold (the water) to pave all of Canton's streets with prosperity!

Here is a video of Schulman setting up the organization and operation of the Commission.

1 comment:

SexCpotatoes said...

I wish we could be 100% certain there was no danger to our water supplies, but we can't.

My idea for a way to guarantee any hydrofracking is safe: Make a law for the entire state of Ohio that any company who despoils our relatively safe water supplies will be financially liable for the infrastructure/water treatment plants and lines and paying usage fees to affected users forever. Make it so that not only the company is responsible, but all investors/shareholders will have all their personal wealth seized and every spare dollar they ever make will go towards helping the people affected by their actions. This debt should be unable to be discharged in a bankruptcy as well.

See who wants the risk and reward of the potentially ruinous hydrofracking then.

Of course such a regulation would never stand up to a court challenge.

I have a private well, so this is a major concern of mine that one wrong move in drilling for natural gas may poison my water source for what sounds like forever.