Displacing a community of 32 families from the Riverdale Mobile Home Village in Piatt Township, PA is just another transaction for Aqua PVR LLC. For 38-year resident, Doris M. Fravel, however, the news is devastating. The company, owned by Bryn Mawr-based Aqua America, plans to eliminate the neighborhood and build a water withdrawal facility for the Natural Gas Industry.
"I could sit down and cry my eyes out," the 82 year old widow told David Thompson of The Williamsport SunGazette in his article, 32-Unit Village No More.
Loretta J. Gary of Protecting Our Waters called attention to the story which has quickly become emblematic of the way pro-gas interests are cramming drilling-related activities down Pennsylvania's collective sore throat. In her March 20, 2012 post, 32 Families Evicted from Homes Due to SRBC Approval of Water Use for Drilling, Gary points out that “Thompson’s article provides a troubling glimpse into how gas drilling is not just fracturing the earth beneath our feet but also the communities and lives that sit on top of it.”
Residents have been given until May 1st to vacate the property, and have been offered a bonus to get out before April 1st. It’s no sweetheart deal. For their troubles, Aqua PVR LLC will give each family a $1,500 eviction bonus, bumping it up to $2,500 if they leave faster. Too bad the cost of moving a trailer home is between $10,000 - $15,000.
"I can't predict the future," said Donna P. Alston, director of communication for Aqua America. "At this point we hope everyone will be able to make the move." She declined to say whether eviction proceedings would begin against residents who do not meet that deadline.
Still, that’s cold. Maybe it's true that “We have more water than we know what to do with," as Aqua America CEO Nick DiBenedictis has been known to proclaim, but apparently the land must be ripped out from under our feet.
The Rising Tide of Water Consciousness
How far Fravel’s story ultimately travels depends on empathy as much as it does media attention. Public consensus is no longer shaped by one source alone. The online chatter may be a brain-draining distraction, or a rage against the machine, but it’s also where connections are forming and new strategies are taking shape. Communities of like-minded individuals are engaging in free and open discourse, actively attempting to sort out Pennsylvania’s Great Fracking Debacle. It's Spring and the grassroots are spreading.
The real story, of course, is about Aqua America, the corporate parent of Aqua PVR LLC, and to what extent we are willing to privatize control over public water supplies. The issue at hand is nothing less than Fresh Water Sovereignty, and it’s the apparent corporate monopolization of our drinking water supplies that has Fractivists in a lather.
“God gives us the water for free,” DiBenedictis has stated publicly. Blogger Dory Hippauf suggests Googling him. God or Mother Nature, I’m not one to say, but it seems whoever delivers the water determines who gets to have the water, and it’s anything but free. In fact, rates in the Southeastern PA region have just gone up.
You can read more about Aqua America’s busy year in Aqua America Reports Increase in Fourth Quarter and Year-End Earnings on Yahoo! Finance
Watch a brief, moving video about the difficulties facing Riverdale residents, Marcellus Shale Reality Tour Part 6 Eviction Notice, by Scott Cannon of Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition on You Tube.