Saturday, July 22, 2006

Water Issues More Than Just Flooding

Water Protection Must Be a Priority
Commentary by Judith Kallo

I am an optimist and foresee that the Take Back Our Town meetings will attract a lot of people. During our first meeting we discussed the Senior housing problem, flood issue along the Old Davidson Mill Rd, local problems in the water distribution system, traffic on Rte 535, but we failed to discuss the most serious issue - how could we maintain the quality of drinking water in our region when we are polluting the source of water: the aquifer and priority wetlands?Our property taxes are high, so no wonder that our expectations are high. At the same time, municipalities fail to meet residents’ expectations. Economic development is good BUT it becomes an issue when regional decision support is not harmonized, local decision-making is poorly organized and interest-driven.

Development site plans are sketchy and unrealistic, planning board members are voting without having the correct information and/or documentation, or without understanding the priorities. We live in a complex world. Local decision-makers must realize that water quality issue is high priority because the human body is composed of water. Frankly, this is not a political issue; water quality is critical to our survival. It is a myth that we can “treat” the water and it will regain its original properties. It should be well understood that water related decision-making is crucial to sustain our well being. Some of us who reside here for over twenty years have learned that sketchy engineering, “state-of-the art” planning promises are unrealistic and fail to work on the long run. Water related issues should not rely upon empty promises.

Going one step further it would not be a bad idea to organize an alliance of local institutions and setup a series of presentations and discussion forums in the neighboring towns. It is essential that we characterize the role of the local aquifer and priority wetlands to make the local residents aware of their significance in local water quality issues. Local institutions, like Township governments, the Planning Boards, Environmental Committees must be aware of our current problems and that our problems are the results of bad decision-making and mistaken priorities. Further negligence and poor decision-making will further impede water quality and drive up the cost of water within our region.

This is one of the reasons why a place like the Pulda Farm becomes a pivotal issue for the residents. The Pulda Farm is a part of the regional aquifer and acts as a buffer zone to priority wetlands. The Pulda Farm is indispensable if we want to maintain water quality.


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