About a dozen demonstrators gathered outside Aqua America’s Bryn Mawr headquarters Wednesday to protest the utility’s plans to build a water-pumping station on the banks of the Susquehanna.
The station would pump 3 million gallons of water a day to nearby Marcellus Shale drilling operations. It’s slated to be built at the current location of a Lycoming County mobile home park.
“This whole region is standing up for these families, saying no evictions, no fracking, no fracking evictions,” said Iris Marie Bloom, executive director of Protecting Our Waters.
In February, Aqua’s business partners bought the land and subsequently asked the more than 30 families living in the mobile home park there to leave.
Nathan Sooy, with Clean Water Action’s Harrisburg office, said the $2,500 relocation assistance being offered is a fraction of what’s needed to move a mobile home.
“My organization is asking Aqua America to provide just relocation benefits of a financial nature to every single family that owns a home in Riverdale Park,” Sooy said.
Aqua president Karl Kyriss said the protests were misdirected.
“Unfortunately, they’re primarily protesting fracking,” Kyriss said. “If they were to focus on the home issue and take a little more time to get an understanding of what’s going on, I think they would have a different position.”
No Riverdale residents took part in the protest. Resident Kevin June says his lawyers are in talks with Aqua, and he hopes the company can carve out a portion of their land for him and his neighbors to stay on.
“We’re going to try to work out something that, you know, we can save part of the land and still be able to live here,” June said. “That’s our main focus right now.”
Aqua is offering relocation money until June 1, but said it does not plan to start evicting residents if they do not leave by that date.
Kyriss said he expects to have the water pumping station operational by the second half of this year.