Professor Calls Location of West Ossipee Gas Station “Reckless”

The following is a Letter to the Editor of the Carroll County Independent, published on May 11. It was written by Dr. Robert Newton, Professor of Geosciences at Smith College for over 30 years. Newton is an expert on the geology of the Ossipee Lake area, and is noted for his mapping of the glacial geology of the Ossipee Ring Dike for the Ossipee Quadrangle. The proposal will be discussed at the Ossipee Planning Board at 7 p.m. on May 16.  

To the Editor:

I write in opposition to the proposed gas station to be built at the intersection of routes 16 and 41. This location is totally inappropriate for this type of activity as it poses a direct threat to the underlying Ossipee Aquifer, and I urge those with concerns to attend the Ossipee Planning Board Meeting on May 16 at 7 p.m. to voice your concerns.

I have some knowledge of this issue as I am a professor of geosciences at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and I teach an advanced level groundwater geology course and do research in groundwater hydrology and aqueous geochemistry. I am also currently serving as the director for the Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability at Smith College and for the past 25+ years I have served as a member on the Barnes Aquifer Protection Advisory Committee.

This is a committee made up of representatives from four Massachusetts communities — Easthampton, Holyoke, Southampton and Westfield and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Committee members work together to protect the aquifer, an important regional groundwater resource. BAPAC addresses water quality issues, and educates and advises local governments, citizen groups, and small businesses about groundwater protection and effects on the aquifer.

The committee also reviews “Developments of Regional Impact” within the aquifer and provides comments to approval authorities. In addition, I mapped the surficial geology deposits of the Ossipee Lake Quadrangle for the State of New Hampshire that was published by the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development in 1974.

The proposed gas station is located in the primary recharge area of the Ossipee Aquifer and is located close to (within 500 feet) of both private and public use water wells. Gas stations have been shown to be a major source of groundwater contamination. Even stations with new triple containment tanks have contaminated local groundwater as spills during fueling are common. All the cities and towns in the BAPAC area have zoning laws that would forbid the location of a gas station in this type of hydrogeologic situation.

Locating a gas station in this site would recklessly endanger the health and well-being of both the people who rely on nearby domestic wells and the public who drink water provided by area restaurants.


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