To The Daily Sun,
Please vote "yes" on Belmont's Article 2 on Tuesday, March 8. This article further protects our shallow, stratified drift aquifer by stopping the most noxious industrial development over the aquifer. Light industry is still welcome. All industrial development currently allowed can continue in those areas of the Industrial Zone not over the aquifer. Article 2 makes the possibility of accidental or thoughtless contamination less likely.
It is time to move aquifer protection in Belmont to a higher level. The town has done a good job of protecting its water and land over the years, but this is not the time to rest on laurels. A global water crisis is at hand and a "big picture" viewpoint needed. Global water shortages are worldwide. The culprits are global warming, evaporation, aquifers drying up from overuse and aquifer pollution from fracking, pesticides, and contaminants.
Iran and the United Arab Emirates state, "Water is more important than oil." The Horn of Africa is drying up. California is in a four-year drought; their groundwater has vanished. Speculators worldwide are buying up water rights. Water is the new oil.
Please do not think water shortages cannot happen in New Hampshire. Most of our high-yielding public water supply wells tap into stratified-drift aquifers. Of the state's registered groundwater withdrawals, 33 million gallons per day come from stratified-drift wells. The state Department of Environmental Services writes that there is a lack of high-yielding wells for existing or future municipal water systems.
"In many areas of the state there are so many existing water withdrawals that it is increasingly difficult to identify a new large-capacity withdrawal site that would not have an unacceptable impact on existing water uses."
In our country, water contamination abounds: Flint, Michigan, of course, and now Hoosick Falls, New York, where families line up to have their blood drawn and their wells tested. Banks stopped giving out mortgages. The public water supply is tainted with high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, used in the manufacture of Teflon.
Neighboring wells in North Bennington, Vermont, and Petersburgh, New York, are also contaminated: water travels.
Central Minnesota last week reported 60 percent of groundwater samples had unsafe nitrate levels. Contaminants of emerging concern will remain a moving target as new chemical compounds are continuously being produced.
NASA predicts a coming major drought in the U.S. with accompanying severe water shortages. On it goes.
In New Hampshire, Milford, Merrimack Village, Jaffrey, Barrington, Peterborough, Seabrook, Londonderry, and more have experienced contaminated aquifers and groundwater. Local papers last week carried the story of state Department of Health and Human Services blood-testing of citizens as water at the former Pease Air Force Base is contaminated with perfluorochemicals. Children who lived on the base are especially at risk.
Should Article 2 pass, truck terminals, treated soils businesses, solid waste facilities, petroleum and propane gas bulk storage facility, and heavy manufacturing would not be allowed to over the aquifer. (Light industry would continue to be allowed.)
Truck terminals use contaminants including waste oil, solvents, gasoline, diesel fuel, and automotive wastes. States including Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Alabama disallow truck terminals over aquifers. In 2013, a truck terminal in Woolwich, New Jersey, was added to the EPA's Superfund hazardous waste sites for groundwater contamination.
A solid waste facility is already in operation over Belmont's aquifer and would be grandfathered in. No new solid waste facilities could be started up.
Soil treatment facilities remediate petroleum or chemically contaminated soil and sump solids from vehicle service shops and car washes. Soils are washed or incinerated. The EPA provides a 184-page guidebook on the prevention of transfer of contaminants at soil treatment facilities. Not something you would want over a stratified drift aquifer.
Bulk storage of petroleum and propane is again not a wise business over an aquifer as it deals in bulk storage of contaminants. It is disallowed over aquifers in other states.
Heavy manufacturing includes automobile manufacturing, mining, petroleum, chemical, and steel industries. Most heavy industry is now overseas.
Chemical plants would again be a poor choice over the aquifer. We have no mining or oil resources in Belmont. Light industries, prevalent in New Hampshire, would continue allowed over the aquifer.
When writing about possible water shortages, NHDES concludes that one of the tools available to citizens to protect groundwater is "to pass new laws or change existing laws." Hopefully, aquifers will be held to a much higher standard by state law and local ordinance in the near future. Bureaucratic wheels turn slowly, however.
In Hoosick Falls, nearly a year and a half passed from the time the chemical was discovered in the water — by a concerned resident who paid to have his water tested rather than wait for the authorities — to the warning from state health officials that residents should not drink it.
Article 2 is a grass roots effort to protect our precious drinking water, now more valuable than ever in the face of the global water crisis. Please look to the future and vote "yes" on Article 2.
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