The Next Page / The Woodlands: Where the water doesn't run
August 19, 2012 12:00 PM
Janet McIntyre brushes her teeth with a quarter cup of carefully rationed bottled water June 4 at her home in the Woodlands. Mrs. McIntyre was hoping to redo her bathroom and even purchased the wallpaper to spruce up the walls but water contamination prevented her from finishing the project.
Barb Romito breaks down after water delivery coordinator Janet McIntyre tells her that an anonymous sponsor will pay for her water buffalo (or tank) for another month.
Mrs. Romito and her husband, Dave, are one of three households using water buffalos in the Woodlands.
Fred McIntyre, 56, helps his wife Janet, 52, shower during a heavy rainstorm July 19. The McIntyres usually drive 11 miles to their son's home to shower but when the weather is nice, they will set up a makeshift shower in their front yard in the Woodlands.
Volunteers Jason Bell and Diane Fipe load water into a pickup truck while water delivery coordinator Janet McIntyre counts up the gallons June 4 at White Oaks Springs Presbyterian Church near Evans City.
Skylar Sowatsky, 3, plays with a garden house outside of her home on May 29. Skylar's mother, Kim McEvoy has moved them out of the Woodlands because they have no water at their home.
Video and text by Julia Rendleman Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Not far from Pittsburgh, there is a community living without clean water. Residents of the Woodlands, near Evans City, started to notice a sulphur-like smell coming from their faucets in the summer of 2010. By January, the water was pouring out with "black flakes" in it. In the case of Kim McEvoy, her water went from an always-available stream to a slow, unsteady drip.
At first, residents didn't know what was to blame for their groundwater contamination. Then they were made aware of Rex Energy's nearby drilling operations -- an easy target for blame. But after months of water testing and results showing the operations weren't to blame, it became clear that fault was becoming too big a burden to prove.
Woodlands' residents have grown weary of the blame game. They have shifted focus, from what caused the contamination to how they can live without water.
The images featured above and in the video are taken from their daily lives as they cope without the thing most critical to life.