December 21, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
29°F
 

Observation well to be dedicated to local farmer

The new observation well in Westfield Township will be dedicated Saturday in honor of Tom Gallatin, a dairy farmer and proponent of groundwater conservation. (Photo by Lisa Hlavinka, The Chronicle-Telegram.)

The new observation well in Westfield Township will be dedicated Saturday in honor of Tom Gallatin, a dairy farmer and proponent of groundwater conservation. (Photo by Lisa Hlavinka, The Chronicle-Telegram.)

WESTFIELD TWP. — A new observation well to be dedicated in the memory of dairy farmer Tom Gallatin on Saturday was built through collaboration among businesses, residents and the public sector.

It was constructed without public money, township trustee Carolyn Sims said. Tom’s brother, Tim, and resident Dennis Delagrange, along with Baker Sand Inc., pitched in money to build the well at 6680 Mud Lake Road with permission from private landowners.

“There’s not a lot of money in county budgets and this is why the residents came forward here,” Sims said.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, the well will be dedicated to Tom Gallatin, a dairy farmer who passed away unexpectedly in July 2007 when the tractor he was driving flipped on top of him.

It is the first memorial observation well in the history of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, apt for Gallatin because he was a vocal proponent of conserving water resources in the area, Tim Gallatin said.

The observation well sits above a groundwater aquifer that supplies water to areas below the Continental Divide. Water north of the Divide comes from Lake Erie, while south of the Divide, individual townships and villages provide water through wells that tap the Ohio River Basin.

Though he was usually a reserved man, Tom Gallatin protested loudly when Medina County and Wadsworth attempted to drill the aquifer for water supplies. He feared they would dry it out and deplete water supplies for farmers in the area, as had happened in other counties, his brother said.

“He was terribly concerned … that they were going to ruin the aquifer and all the local people in the southern part of the township would be left without water,” Tim Gallatin said. “My brother was quite vocal in believing that shouldn’t happen, and it didn’t happen.”

Sims said the new observation well will assist public entities in maintaining the sustainability of groundwater resources in the area.

“This water level information can be used to assist ODNR, the (county) Sanitary Engineers Office and other groundwater officials to gauge the possible long-range effects on our area’s groundwater,” Sims said in a newsletter to residents.

It is part of the Ohio Ground Water Observation Well Network overseen by the ODNR. Since May, the department has been using the well to gather hourly water level readings that are compiled and updated quarterly on the department’s Web site.

The county Sanitary Engineers Office also will use the well to gather information in relation to its water-producing well field off Westfield Road.

The observation well was built on a privately owned parcel that is under contract to be sold to the Medina County Park District. It lies on top of a sand aquifer that can recharge the groundwater aquifer, Sims said. Later, Baker Sand also will sell a parcel to the Park District with similar topographical attributes.

“This will allow water to percolate through the ground back to the groundwater aquifer, so we can pump more water out of it,” Sims said.

State Rep. Dave Hall, R-Killbuck, and state Sen. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, will be at the ceremony Saturday, along with county Commissioners Steve Hambley and Pat Geissman, Sims said.

Tom Gallatin’s name will be at the top of a bronze plaque dedicated to him and those involved in the construction of the well.

“He was a good steward of the land,” his brother said. “He made sure it was better when he was done with it than when he got it.”

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@ohio.net.