I met the Manning family during my first trip to the area about a month ago. The Mannings live in Franklin-Forks, Pennsylania and discovered in December of 2011 that their water went bad, shortly after WPX Energy began hydrofracking in the area. At the time, I was not able to mention their name or photograph them because they are in a lawsuit with WPX Energy. However, when I called Tammy Manning a few weeks later after first meeting her she told me she was fed up and wanted to let the public know what their family is going through.
Tammy and Matt Manning have three daughters who are all in their twenties. Up until 2010, they had always rented their houses. However, when their landlord needed to sell the house they were living in, they decided to purchase their first house in Franklin Township in November of 2010. Shortly after buying their house, WPX Energy began drilling in the town.
In December of 2011, the Mannings water came out of the faucet grey. They got their water tested by the DEP and the results came back positive for containing high levels of methane, arsenic, barium, and other dangerous chemicals. There is also carbon monoxide coming out of the faucets. The safe level for methane in drinking water is between 5-10 percent. The Manning’s water is at 68 percent methane.
Tammy and Matt now live in their house with their daughter Brianne and her two kids Madison, 5, and Jayden, 3. On the weekends, their granddaughter, Emily, 1, stays with them. Once a week Matt drives to Conklin, New York to his mother’s house where he fills up gallon-jugs of water which the family uses for drinking, cooking, and other daily tasks such as brushing their teeth. However, they still have to shower in the contaminated water. When they shower, they have to leave a window open or a fan on or else they get lightheaded from all of the methane coming out. They do not know the long-term health risks of this and are concerned for their grandchildren.
The Mannings are the first family to come out and say they have a problem with their water. Since, several other families in the town came out saying their water is contaminated as well. Once a well is contaminated, the water can never be drinkable again.
Tammy and Matt agreed to let me stay with them during my spring break to photograph their family. They told me that they would like to expose the whole operation and they want to see WPX Energy forced to stop drilling. Most importantly, they want to stop this from happening to other families. The Mannings were so accommodating and to say that by the end of the trip I became attached to the family is a huge understatement. They are the last family I would want something like this to happen to.