By John Ingle, Heron Hill Winery
As a winery owner and grape grower for over 35 years in the Finger Lakes Region, I have witnessed the growth of our industry from a dozen wineries in the ‘70s to over 100 now. I have also seen the significant increase in tourism in the Finger Lakes. This growth represents a focused and diligent effort to create two of the most viable profit centers, wineries and tourism, in the New York economy. For years, families and friends have united here over the lakes, the land, and the wine – to see it all go away over shale gas drilling – a.k.a. “fracking” – would be a tragedy.
Out of my appreciation and dependence upon the lakes, I have implemented sustainable practices in my vineyards – always trying to control the negative impact on the water. This is often times more expensive, and labor-intensive, but it is the sacrifice we make – not just as winery and vineyard owners, but also for our families and friends who grew up here or moved here out of love for the Finger Lakes. In return, our pure waters are priceless for our families to drink from and for recreational purposes. Wastewater produced as a byproduct of fracking can leach untreatable pollutants and radioactive elements into our backyards and into the water. Yes, the gas drillers promised us that our water would not be harmed, but they promised the same to those families in Pennsylvania too – who can’t even drink from their own faucets anymore! The thought of our grandchildren not being able to swim in – or even drink from – these clean lakes is disheartening. These cannot be sacrificed at any cost.
Even if the wells were out of sight, the idea of hundreds of trucks using our state and town roads to transport dangerous chemically treated water is unacceptable. These trucks will degrade our roads and bridges, which could result in deadly accidents as our roads are subjected to mud, ice, and snow in the winter and spring months. This is an agricultural region; our local taxpayers can not afford the essential repair caused by this damage. Not to mention, these trucks present the possibility of destructive spills. We all know accidents happen. The wastewater that is supposed to be sent away for treatment and storage could end up in our backyard where our crops and vineyards grow, animals feed, and children play.
In addition, these trucks will have a very negative effect on traffic flow and will discourage tourism to our area. Imagine yourself as one of the many who come here to escape the hustle of their daily lives, cruising along our peaceful country roads, only to get stuck behind a truck carrying dangerous wastewater. Tourism has proved to be one of the most prosperous businesses here. People come here to relax, but after the traffic, pollution, and noise that these trucks will bring – there will be nothing tranquil anymore about the Finger Lakes.
God has blessed us with a beautiful region, we have built it into a thriving industry, now we must protect and preserve it for ourselves and future generations. We are the stewards of the land; we must persevere with efforts to hold on to what we have. There isn’t enough money, or enough natural gas, to warrant jeopardizing our beautiful Finger Lakes Region.
Heron Hill Winery
Note: This letter was sent to:
- Senator Thomas F. O’Mara
- Senator Patrick M. Gallivan
- Senator Mark Girsanti
- Assemblyman Philip A. Palmesano
- Assemblyman Brian Kolb
- Assemblyman/Speaker: Sheldon Silver
- Governor Cuomo
- Town Supervisors of the Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative (Barrington, Hammondsport, Urbana, Jerusalem, Penn Yan, Milo, Wayne, Pulteney)
- This was also read by Paul Wilson (Retail Manager) on 11/4/11 at the Urbana Council Meeting held in Hammondsport