[The following letter to the Carroll County Independent was made public on 3/2/11]
To the Editor:
Ossipee Lake is one of our area’s most visible and valuable environmental assets, but beneath it is an asset even more important – the Ossipee Aquifer. The Aquifer may be invisible to the eye, but it deserves our highest level of attention and protection.
On March 8 the people of six area towns have a unique opportunity to approve new ground water protection ordinances and create a web of consistent safeguards for our drinking water supply across the entire watershed.
Ossipee and Madison have had protective ordinances in effect for years, so their ballot measures consist of small updates, mainly to introduce a more accurate U.S. Geological Survey map of the Aquifer.
Meanwhile, Freedom, Effingham, Tamworth and Sandwich voters will be considering adoption of town-specific ordinances like the ones already in place in Ossipee and Madison to prohibit high-risk activities like septic sludge lagoons, bulk storage of petroleum and road salt, and the construction of new gas stations situated directly over the defined Aquifer area.
The measures will require new and existing businesses that use large amounts of hazardous materials located within groundwater protection areas to follow Best Management Practices to prevent leaks and spills. These rules are already required by state law, but putting them into local ordinances will allow local zoning officers to carry out inspections to ensure compliance.
Consistent with the common sense objective of limiting unnecessary regulations, the restrictions in the new ordinances are specific and highly targeted. They don’t apply to residential homeowners or to businesses using only small amounts of hazardous materials such as fuels and chemical solvents.
Volunteers have made an enormous effort to tee-up a decision on March 8 to bring Freedom, Effingham, Tamworth and Sandwich into the web of safeguards already established by Ossipee and Madison to protect our drinking water for years to come.
We applaud the Independent’s editorial endorsement of the new ordinances last week, and we join the paper in urging residents of the Ossipee Lake area to approve them on March 8.
David L. Smith, Executive Director
Ossipee Lake Alliance