Saturday, March 10, 2012
Saturday morning, I went with Matt on his weekly run to get water from his Mom’s house in Conklin, NY. It’s about a twenty-minute drive and along the way he talked about how growing up, he spent a lot of time outdoors. Not much has changed. Matt spends much of his time fishing, hunting, and boating and has a great appreciation for the outdoors.
Matt’s mother is an extremely warm and welcoming person. We walked into the house and were immediately hit with a delicious smell of meatballs cooking in the crock pot.
Matt brought in a garbage bag filled with gallon-sized water jugs. He walked straight to the sink and began filling them up with water as he and his mother talked about their well situation and how Matt’s father was doing in the nursing home. It took around fifteen minutes to fill up the jugs and four different trips to the truck.
Once we got back to the Manning house, I made myself a quick sandwich and headed to Dimock, where I met with Ray Kembele.
Ray’s water went bad four years ago. This is a sample of water he collected from his well last summer. Cabot Oil and Gas Company used to supply the families with water, but stopped deliveries at the end of last year. Craig Stevens and Ray decided to take it upon themselves to supply the families with water.
Craig and Ray get this water from a hydrant in Montrose, PA, which Craig pays for through donations. Members in the community of Montrose are upset with them for taking water from their town to provide to families in Dimock. Ray has been physically harassed while trying to pump water from the hydrant. After spending ten minutes with Ray, I don’t know who would be crazy enough to mess with him.
During our car ride, Ray chain-smoked four cigars as we talked about numerous things involving hydrofracking in the area. In the background artists such as Lady Gaga, Sheryl Crow, and Avril Lavigne were almost inaudibly playing. It made me laugh to think of him driving alone with it turned up, cigar in mouth.
Ray used to work for Cabot Oil and Gas Company, driving a water truck to the sites. He was fired, however, when he called the EPA notifying them of violations the company was making including hauling brine water in fresh water tanks. It’s ironic that he is now hauling water to families effected by this same company.
The first house we delivered water to was the house of Erik Roos. Erik came out to talk with Ray and meet me and it was obvious how normal it had become for him to have someone deliver water from a truck to a water buffalo outside of his house.
Because the water buffalos are meant for cattle, humans cannot consume water out of them. So these families use the water for showering, but still have to buy bottled water to use for drinking, cooking, and other uses.
Next, we went to the house of Richard Seymour. His house is absolutely beautiful and it was sad to see how much work had been put into it to know that the property value is now so low because of not having safe water.
A comment his wife made about filling up an ice cube tray with bottled water made me realize how many different small inconveniences there were I hadn’t thought about.
Next, Ray delivered water to the Hubert’s, a family on Carter Road I had met during my previous trip.
The last delivery Ray had to make was for himself. Ray explained that his electricity bill is an extra $150 - $200 dollars a month from running the buffalo. Ray said that if he wins the lawsuit against Cabot Oil and Gas Company, he is leaving Dimock. Ray had to stop using his pool because so much dust and dirt got in it from the big trucks that it was impossible to keep clean. For this same reason he has to keep his windows closed and he can’t use the grill outside. “You can’t enjoy your own yard,” he said.
I got back to the Manning’s house around 2:30. Around this time Vera Scroggins, a local activist, called me and invited me along to an anti-fracking Natalie Merchant concert in Binghamton. She asked me to bring the video of the Manning’s well erupting.
I got to set up my video at a “Water for Dimock” table and it was great to be able to be apart of the Dimock group and see the amazing people I had met during my last trip: Vera Scroggins, Craig Stevens, Craig and Julie Sautner. Ray, who I had spent the day delivering water with, was there too! I met a lot of great people during the night and got to see Natalie Merchant perform, who was incredible.
I got back to the Mannings around midnight and found Tammy doing a puzzle and watching TV. Although I was exhausted, I joined Tammy and worked on the puzzle with her. We spent about an hour joking around and competing to see who could get more pieces. That’s when it hit me how much I would miss this family when I had to leave the next day.