The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has received the water withdrawal and consumptive use permit application for the AquaBounty facility proposed for Pioneer.
AquaBounty raises genetically modified salmon and has proposed a $200 million investment to build a 479,000 square foot facility with a capacity to produce 10,000 metric tons of genetically modified salmon a year.
The ODNR application, received Wednesday, is to allow the farm to withdraw 3 million gallons of groundwater a day in the Lake Erie watershed, according to the ODNR website.
ODNR is reviewing the materials to determine whether the application is complete.
If it’s deemed incomplete, AquaBounty will be informed of what information is needed.
Once it is ODNR is satisfied it has all the information it needs, the public will be able to access all relevant documents to the application and the public will have 30 days to make comments.
The chief of the Division of Water Resources has 90 days to issue or deny the permit.
The information will be available at https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/safety-conservation/about-ODNR/water-resources.
While ODNR still needs to look at the information, Ed Kidston, owner of Artesian of Pioneer (AOP), said the studies prove water is available and renewable for the project.
Kidston, who is also the mayor of Pioneer and purchased the property on which the AquaBounty facility will be located in January, said AOP was hired to be the general manager of the drilling aspects of the project. He has recused himself from the political side of discussions in bringing the company to the county due to this conflict.
“We’re really excited for what we found and we proved with the scientific report,” he said. “That parcel where we expect to get the water, we found two different aquifers. One was the Williams Complex Aquifer and then the St. Joseph Erie Aquifer. Both those run through that property and provides a really strong, renewable water source.”
While Kidston felt they could get more water out of the property, they applied for 3 million gallons, which is sufficient to get AquaBounty up and running.
AquaBounty has mentioned before it needed between 3 million and 5 million gallons of water a day. Kidston said Wednesday their current plans are to use closer to 4.4 million gallons a day.
“There’s ways of doing that: recycling more water or getting water from a different source, so on and so forth,” he said. “At the end of the day, they’ll look at all the economics and make sure they’re not going to harm the environment in anyway.”
While there is “slight interference” about a mile out from the source, he said it will not be a short-term let alone long-term problem.
Out beyond a mile-and-a-half then there is no interference whatsoever, Kidston said.
Another piece of good news is that the data they received will be put into the data being compiled by the state to investigate ground water in our area.
“It will really tell us a lot about our water supply and that’s a good thing,” Kidston said. “We all want to know the water is going to be there forever, including AquaBounty and including Ed Kidston... We never want to run out of water.”
He also addressed some chatter about discharge from the project.
The water released into the river will be treated and actually be of higher quality than the water already in there, Kidston said.
“You can’t just put waste in the river; It is completely treated,” he added. “The millions of gallons of treated water going back into the St. Joseph River will actually help the water quality of the entire river.”
Calls made to Megan Hausch, Williams County Economic Development Corporation executive director and to ODNR officials were not returned on Wednesday.