In the early days, the company’s founders recognized the need for a constant supply of clean fresh water for irrigation. With the help of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, Roemer Nursery installed four water retention ponds on its property to ensure a constant source of clean water. Since its installation over forty years ago, the ponds never failed to provide an adequate source of fresh water for year-round irrigating of the nursery’s entire inventory – until recently.
In 2006, a Wal-Mart Supercenter was opened nearby. Before and during construction, Roemer Nursery and other nearby growers expressed concerns about how the development would impact the local environment, particularly the local water supplies due to the run off of water from the building’s roof and parking lot. The city assured Roemer Nursery that their water source would not be negatively affected.
Once the store was finished, Roemer Nursery started seeing an increase in salt levels in the main irrigation pond. Within one year, the nursery began experiencing significant damage to their plants due to the water quality. Since then, our main pound has been rendered useless due to contamination of salt and other chemicals.
The value of Roemer Nursery’s current inventory of nursery stock is more than $1 million, all of which is at risk without an adequate supply of clean irrigation water. During the hot summer months of the growing season, Roemer Nursery pumps an average volume of two million gallons of water from the irrigation ponds per week.
Roemer Nursery has commissioned extensive testing of the soil and water supplies to determine the extent of the contamination by salt and other damaging chemicals. In one recent test, soil samples and plant tissue tested by an independent lab showed sodium levels in samples irrigated with water from the contaminated pond measured 11,500 parts per million, compared to the normal range of 190-625 ppm when irrigated with clean water.
The owners and management of Roemer Nursery have made repeated attempts to seek cooperation from Wal-Mart Supercenter to find a solution to this environmental problem. Wal-Mart’s position is that Roemer Nursery has failed to prove that Wal-Mart is the source of the pollution.
Wal-Mart’s refusal to address the critical issue of water contamination has left Roemer no option but to pursue a legal path. On Thursday, August 20, Roemer Nursery has filed a law suit against Wal-Mart and others who are responsible for this environmental damage and its impact on our business.