Landenberg Q&A: David Yake
By Richard Gaw
Dave Yake has become the public face of the Save Our Water grassroots action group in Landenberg, which was formed to block the Artesian water company's efforts to pump water out of a local aquifer and send it into Delaware. The legal fight has been going on for years, but has intensified as more community support has gotten behind the effort in recent months. As Save Our Water becomes more organized and more of a political force, Yake has found himself at the center of an issue he never thought he'd be part of. He recently answered a few questions about his involvement in the group, and his personal opposition to the Artesian plan.
Q.: How would your home be directly affected by the Artesian plan, if it were to be activated?
A.: It is unlikely, according to Brickhouse Environmental, that our home well would be directly impact if the Broad Run well were commercially activated due the distance from the well. However, other local wells could be impacted.
When and how did you find out about Artesian's purchase of the property and its plan to pump the water?
We were aware of the Artesian’s purchase of the water rights to the well from all the public uproar over that in the early 2000s. More recently, in late 2012, Jane and Marion Waggoner from Save Our Water learned of the Pennsylvania DEP application permit to test the well again. It was finally completed in April 2014.
How did the Save Our Water Committee come about, and how did you become involved?
The formation of Save Our Water dates back to the early 2000s, when Gene Oates formed the organization to fight Artesian’s plans to mine water from the Broad Run well and export it to Delaware. When Marion and Jane learned of Artesian’s more recent plans to test and activate the well, they reformed the organization and held town hall meetings to educate the public. I met them at one of the early meetings, bought a sign to put up and offered to help them.
What is your professional background, that you thought may lend itself to the work the Commmission is doing?
I have a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, and served in various global research, business and sales senior leadership roles over my 33-year career with DuPont. In each of those roles, I had to quickly understand the issues, develop a strong working knowledge of the technology, and lead a diverse organization to meet business needs.
What are your basic objections to Artesian's proposal?
My, and Save Our Water’s, key objections to Artesian’s commercial plans are focused on three key areas: First, a public utility, primarily Delaware, mining water which belongs to all of us for profit outside of New Garden Township -- over 105 million gallons per year, with over 80 percent exported to Delaware. This is not allowed under current township zoning ordinances. Second, I was concerned that the amount of water being mined would draw down the aquifer, stress the Broad Run ecosystem and negatively impact area wells, especially during drought periods, without adequate controls and public/regulatory oversight. In fact, we have serious concerns with the insufficient testing that was done by Artesian, the technical analysis of the results and the conclusions. Finally, Artesian’s heavy-handed approach appears to be focused on getting approval from certain regulatory agencies in a way that circumvents the township zoning approval process and ignores the township’s Comprehensive Growth Plan. This would set a very dangerous precedent.
Have you become more comfortable becoming a public spokesperson on behalf of the Commission?
I have had a lot of experience in communicating to the public and government throughout my DuPont career. My role in Save Our Water is a natural application of that experience and it is one shared with Marion Waggoner.
Are you active with other environmental groups in the region?
I am not active with any other environmental groups and am enjoying my retirement, especially helping to take care of our granddaughter and finding time to pursue various hobbies.
What do you like most about the Landenberg area?
My wife Rhonda and I lived in Tokyo, Japan, for nearly six years prior to moving to Landenberg in 2002. We really enjoy the open, rural lifestyle and quality of life compared to the hustle of a large city.