PIONEER, Ohio (WANE) The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has given approval to a water withdrawal request by the operators of a salmon farm currently under construction in northwest Ohio. The farm has met with opposition by those who claim the salmon farm will have serious environmental implications.
AquaBounty is constructing a large-scale commercial salmon farm in Pioneer, Ohio which is located in Williams County. But before it can be completed the company needs to clear multiple regulatory hurdles. One of those hurdles has to do with withdrawing millions of gallons of water from an underground aquifer which stretches into Indiana and Ohio.
On Thursday, the Ohio DNR’s Division of Water Resources approved AquaBounty’s request to pump up to 5.25 million gallons of water from the aquifer via a well field in Williams County. In its permit approval declaration the DNR indicated the aquifer in Williams County receives 200 million gallons of water a day from precipitation and ground water inflow from Michigan and Indiana. That estimate was provided by the US Geological Survey
Opponents of the salmon farm believe wells that rely on the aquifer will dry up.
AquaBounty is still awaiting approval from the Ohio EPA for wastewater discharge permits. AquaBounty wants to pump the used water from the salmon farm into the St. Joseph River which flows into Indiana where it eventually joins up with the St. Marys River to form the Maumee in Fort Wayne.
Doug Fasick, executive director of the St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative, and Tom Selman, Angola’s water superintendent, have expressed concerns about that plan.
“The environmental and ecological impacts from extra discharge into the surface waters of the St. Joseph River need to be studied,” Fasick said.
If completed, AquaBounty’s Pioneer Salmon Farm will dwarf a salmon farm it currently operates in Albany, Indiana. The Albany farm is capable of raising 1,200 metric tons of salmon a year, while the Pioneer facility would be capable of producing 10,000 metric tons of salmon annually. According to the AquaBounty website, the company plans on stocking salmon at the facility in late 2023.