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Tinya Konradt, who lives in rural Fithian on a family farm about three miles from Homer, said her well ran dry this summer during the drought.
That’s never happened before, she said, and that’s why she has concerns about 350,000 gallons of water a day being pumped out of the ground in the Homer area and piped to a proposed coal mine in Vermilion County.
Konradt was one of more than 50 people who attended a special Homer village board meeting last week to discuss Sunrise Coal’s request for hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw water and up to 4,000 gallons of treated water and sewer services.
The village trustees hashed out what they would like to see in the contract for treated water and sewer services at the meeting, but didn’t officially discuss the request for 350,000 gallons of raw water.
Homer Mayor David Lucas said the raw water request will likely be considered for approval in January. And at the village’s next meeting in December, the trustees will consider a contract with Sunrise for treated water and sewer services based on their discussions at the meeting. But the raw water request did come up at the meeting when one of the village trustees asked a special attorney hired by the village whether Homer would be legally liable if private wells were affected by a large withdrawal of water. The attorney, James Rhodes with Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, said state law requires the village to go through extensive review by a number of government agencies before it can draw out a large amount of water.
“That issue gets vetted with great detail,” he told the village trustees, “and you have a number of sign-offs.”
Lucas said the village went through that extensive process when it drilled the village’s northern wells several years ago.
“If the aquifer won’t support it, they won’t allow you to drill it,” he said.