Ogden opposes sale of water to coal mine near Homer

HOMER — An Ogden village trustee presented the Homer Village Board with a letter stating Ogden's opposition to Homer's selling water to a proposed coal mine.

The letter, delivered by Ogden Trustee Sonja Vickers, cites water supply and environmental factors among the village's concerns.

Homer is investigating whether wells around the village, including one on the north part of town, could supply water to Sunrise Coal. The company, from Terre Haute, Ind., hopes to build a coal mine in Vermilion and Champaign counties with a surface operation of 400 acres located southeast of Homer and north of Sidell.

The company is requesting 325,000 gallons of water initially and eventually 540,000 gallons of water a day. The village uses 120,000 gallons a day.

Homer resident Mary Kay Anderson told the board she was concerned about the environmental effects of the coal mine on area.

"I just wanted to let you know I was concerned about it," she said. "Some people may be concerned about the salability of their property in the future."

The board also discussed how the board cannot prevent the coal mine from coming to the area.

"If we do not sell them water, they will get water regardless," said Homer Trustee Kevin Knott. "It's still going to come through."

Knott said that the coal mine is out to make money and the only entity that could prevent the mine would be the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Mayor David Lucas said he is frustrated because people are making statements without any facts to back them up. Lucas referenced an email which stated that dumping water into the Salt Fork would ruin the river's ecosystem.

Lucas said he asked the person for facts to back that up and they could not provide any.

"It's frustrating to listen to things that cannot be proven," he said. "Any decisions we make will be based on facts not emotion."

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Friend of the Salt Fork wrote on September 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Mayor Lucas failed to mention that he responded to the email referenced by suggesting that the writer silence themselves. The concerns expressed in the email to Mayor Lucas were not only with regard to the effluence of the coal mine but also the draw down of the river. Rather than thank this citizen for expressing their concerns he tried to intimidate them. When it comes to the safety of our water and our shared natural environment the burden to prove or disprove harm should be on those intending to alter it NOT on those trying to preserve it.

I would like to see facts to prove that the draw down and effluence will not harm the river's ecosystem.

It is true that the coal mine will be here with or without the willing participation of the Homer Board but, the Homer Board is in a position to make some effort to require responsible behavior from the mine operators. For example, rather than immediately comply with whatever request the mine makes, the board could suggest that the mine use only as much water as the local environment can provide without taking extraordinary measures. The need to draw down the river to meet Sunrise Coal's target volume is a choice not a requirement. If the board refuses to do that Sunrise will most certainly make due with what the Village is willing to supply them without tapping into the river.

Mayor Lucas has options; the Village Board is the local authority ... not the coal mine.