Mayor says water supply’s ‘safety and purity’ is ‘of great concern’

By David Skolnick


Mayor Charles Sammarone is urging Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Mahoning Valley Sanitary District officials to be vigilant in protecting one of the Valley’s main water sources from possible contamination from gas and oil wells.

The Meander Reservoir’s “safety and purity” is “of great concern,” Sammarone said.

The city co-owns the reservoir with Niles, with the MVSD handling its day-to-day operations. About 200,000 people in Mahoning and Trumbull counties get their water from the reservoir.

The MVSD board of directors is “acutely aware of the environmental issues raised in the development of [oil and gas] reserves and remains vigilant in monitoring well sites, specifically those located in Ellsworth Township and Jackson Township, even though those sites are not located on” the district’s property, wrote Matthew Blair, an MVSD board member, on behalf of the water district.

Blair added that “no drilling is planned or contemplated on” MVSD property.

Also, Rick Simmers, chief of ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources, responded to a Sammarone letter, writing that the agency shares “the concerns of your residents that the city’s source of drinking- water be protected.”

All underground sources of drinking water in the state are “isolated and protected from potential contamination when drilling oil, gas and brine wells,” Simmers wrote.

He added that additional protections include cementing steel casings to well bores, and ODNR places a “high priority on witnessing this critical phase to make certain of proper installation.”

Between a D&L Energy Inc. injection well linked to 13 earthquakes and the illegal dumping of hundreds of thousands of gallons of drilling waste into a storm drain that goes into a Mahoning River tributary by D&L and a sister company, which all happened in Youngstown, Sammarone wants to make sure the Meander Reservoir is safe.

“You never know what’s going to happen, and I’m on record being concerned about our drinking water,” Sammarone said. “We can’t let our water become contaminated.”

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