To The Daily Sun,
The previous two letters that I submitted about water have dealt with the waste and misuse of our most precious resource. Even more insidious is the contamination of water both on the surface and underground. I am not alone in the concern about the current deregulation efforts focused on loosening EPA rules relating to water purity.
I remember the era that followed the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1965. I arrived in New Hampshire in 1969. I had left a highly populated suburban region of New Jersey and was looking forward to getting back to a more rural life. Yes, I found rural, but it was more contaminated than it appeared. The lakes and ponds were pretty and relatively clean
but the rivers were a different story. Fishing was possible but eat at your own risk was the advice I got as related to most of the rivers. Sewage infrastructure was poor and in some places, nonexistent. Industrial wastes were poorly handled and lacked regulation to prevent abuse.
Federal plans growing out of the 1965 law arrived in the form of the Winnipesaukee River Basin Study. Towns were advised and a delivery system was designed and offered as solution to the sewage problem. A plant was created on the terminus of the system. The plant was located on the banks of the Merrimack River at the south end of Franklin.
It was, and still is, a model for the rest of the state.
Addressing how to handle surface water and ground water contamination was the focus of the Clean Water Act. That law put some teeth into the EPA's bite. Identification of hazards came first. Once identified, the contaminates were listed. Then came the debate about control and clean-up methods. For instance, a whole industry grew out of chemical
storage tank identification and testing. Those that were above ground were easily identified and cataloged. Those that were leaking were put on a list as source water hazards. It was called the Location of Above-ground Storage Tanks, or the (LAST) list. The underground tanks were not quite so easy to locate. Many of them had been abandoned for
one reason or other. The search continued, however, and soon there was the Location of Underground List, or the (LUST) list. Cute names given to some pretty ugly business, I thought.
While the storage tank search and remediation continued, a whole array of contaminates affecting the ground water were found and their potential hazards were identified. Most of us in Hew Hampshire are familiar with the chemical MTBE. It was a gasoline additive that was found in our ground water in sufficient quantities to be considered a
hazard. After a length series of court cases, we received monies from the petroleum companies for remediation. It, by no means, is the only contaminant endangering our well-heads. Fertilizer, road salt, household chemicals and septic systems are the most common, but the list continues to grow.
I think you get the idea. We need rules and regulations. To make sure the chemicals and hazards are kept away from our drinking water supply we need trained personnel and enforcement capability at the state and national levels accompanied by local ordinances that help ensure our ground water is safe to draw from a well.