Jon Ehrsam was the first person to notice the change about a year ago this month when the well at his house on State Route 120 went dry.
He figured it was time to lower the tip of the well deeper into the aquifer.
About a week and a half later, the people across the road, Jerry and Joan Tejkl, ran out of water.
The neighbors began comparing notes and Joan contacted the Fulton County Health Department. A representative there expressed concern, but the agency’s oversight over local water usage had been stripped in 2004 when legislators voted to turn authority over to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The health department now acts only in an advisory role.
Another nearby neighbor, Melody Meek, never lost drinking water because she draws from a deeper aquifer, but she has a backup pump in the shallower water source. She noticed the water level had dropped significantly.
The group began wondering if the change might be related to the Chesterfield Dairy on Fulton County Road 14, less than a mile to the southwest. The dairy had been plagued by water problems from the start and initially resorted to bringing water by truck until productive wells were finally established.
“We didn’t want to jump to any conclusion,” Joan Tejkl said, “but there were no problems until the dairy started pumping.”