Monday, March 07, 2016


Monday, March 7, 2016

I watched the Democratic debates last night to continue my record of watching every debate. Bernie Sanders is from Vermont and I worked with him very briefly in 1980, so my interest in his political career has always prevailed. Vermont is not a big state but our 620,000 inhabitants have always maintained a strong sense of their environment and the importance of protecting every part of it.

Part of the debate questioning of Clinton and Sanders last night involved fracking. My first introduction to fracking in Vermont was when a homeowner I knew drilled a 605 foot water well and never hit much water. The options were limited but the person was advised that with that much casing, hence almost 600 feet of pipe or stone filled with water, there could be enough water to maintain a small family. Another option was to install a large holding tank and the final choice was to frack the well hole. In this case, high pressure water and possibly chemicals would be directed to the walls of the well to free it of rock shards and dust that might be packing veins in the granite (common here). Those materials prohibited the flow of water out of the veins and into the well. The homeowner probably had that terrible vision of "How much money do I sink in an empty hole?" but he went with the fracking.  It was not a good story and it had to be done twice but a couple weeks afterwards the well opened up and the estimate was a gallon and a half a minute. To give you an idea of the probable cost of the well alone, I recently obtained an estimate to drill a well at the flower farm and that was in the $15K range. The depth estimate was comparable to the 605 foot well I just described. 

The concern with fracking involves the chemicals which are added to the process. Typically they are in great abundance and once introduced to the aquifer via the new well, there is no way they can be removed. People in the business might say the chemicals will come out with the water due to water pressure or they might be pumped out but where they actually move to within the aquifer is never known.  This is pollution. 

Sec. Clinton went  "round Robin's (Robin Hood's) barn" with her answer of how she would approve fracking and Sen. Sanders kept his response to a simple "NO!" as in "No good, not once, not ever." (my add-on). So why do I bring this up? Because water is very important to all of us, lack of water worldwide is growing in importance,  and for me, it has been a concern for many, many years. Here's a story.

In my early years of school, one of my teachers gave an assignment of writing a paper  that described a couple things that during my lifetime would have great significance to the planet. I thought about it and arrived at water and trash. But the paper didn't go too far, in fact, it received more laughs than atta-boys.  But in 2016, now 60 years later, if there was to be a "last laugh", I am the guy with the laughter. Water is critical and the trash we leave behind is too. Fracking leaves "trash" and unlike roadside trash, we cannot pick it up.

It's not for me to recommend how to vote but there may be merit to looking at the fracking question as a reminder to other issues equally important to us and the rest of the world. Give this some thought. Here at our house on Peacham Pond Road, our well is  200 feet deep, it produces over 25 gallons of water per minute and the water is clean as a whistle and tastes better than any I have ever had. Out back we have a spring that for over 200 years has been known as The White Spring because the water comes out  between granite boulders and immediately forms a stream bed that glistens with white granite dust. That spring runs at over 50 gallons per minute. We're lucky! No fracking ever involved--only Mother Nature!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where it has been snowing for a couple hours. It's 29.9° with a 4 mph wind. Warmer weather is on the way.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Writing on Facebook as a personal page, George Africa, and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Writing about gardening, flowers, the weather on other forms of social media. #feelthebern; #vtflowerfarm; #fracking; #water;

And always here to help you grow your green thumb!

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