“Commission staff are currently reviewing the hydro-geologic report prepared and submitted by Chobani and their consultants (licensed independent professional geologists and engineers) in support of their pending withdrawal application,” Obleski said.
“As the technical review of hydro-geologic report is still in progress, official findings have yet to be issued,” she said. “Preliminary review of the testing data suggests minor influence at several of the monitored residential wells resulting from pumping at the Chobani supply wells. Additionally, based on the preliminary findings of the review, it appears that mechanical problems (rather than inadequate water level in the aquifer/well) were the root cause of the problems in the wells that Chobani investigated in the vicinity of the plant.”
Word that the testing concernning Chobani’s groundwater was wrapping up first came last week from Otsego County Rep. Linda Rowinski, D-Oneonta, who advised her fellow board members that she had learned the well problems were not caused by Chobani’s water usage. She said the water shortage had apparently been caused by drought.
Asked later where she obtained the information, she said the findings were passed along to her by the district manager for the Otsego County Soil and Water District, Scott Fickbohm. He, in turn, said he learned of the findings from David Sheldon, director of environmental health and safety at the Chobani plant.
Sheldon, in a statement released to The Daily Star by Chobani spokeswoman Kelly Lacorte, said: “The SRBC is currently reviewing the report on the aquifer test, which we filed on March 4. We remain confident that the final review will confirm the water table is adequate for the needs of the community and the company.”
The Chobani plant is located just west of the Unadilla River, a tributary of the Susquehanna, whose watershed area is regulated by the commission.