Answers wanted by Sharon McLeay, September 28, 2012, Strathmore Times
Farmers have a connection with their land. The soil texture in their hand, the feel of the ground under their feet, the sight of the new shoots rising and the smell of the crop ripening is how the land communicates to them. To farmers the land is a living thing. When they give time and attention, God willing, the land gives back a livelihood. When a four-foot berm, 60 feet long, rose up on the corner of Ken Wise’s property near Rockyford and started oozing grey sludge water, he listened. “Something has happened to our soil and land over the last three years,” said Wise. “Water has never been there. In spring it runs to the pond and into the coulee. By July it dries up.” Now the water collects, doesn’t disappear, and recently developed gas like surface bubbles. He thought maybe oil well drilling or the test hydraulic fracturing that was conducted near their property might have altered something below ground. … The Wise family is frustrated with getting no reasonable answers. They have become suspicious of vague answers and refusals to release water test results. They are discouraged by the way their concerns are being disregarded.
A recent incident of gas plant water effluent being sprayed on the road near their property just increased the frustration. They took water samples and requested Wheatland County take samples as well, to make sure there are no health risks. They appeared in Wheatland County Council on Sept. 18 to find out why results were not available to them and plead for County Councilors to take steps to curtail the indiscriminate disregard that some companies have for the farmers, their families and the land.
The Wise family is not alone in their concerns. Recently, several other farmers in the area have had land disturbances surface. … There is no legislation municipally, provincially or federally on restricting mineral developments on private land. Under existing government guidelines farmers have the right to take issues to court, at their own expense. [Emphasis added]