Alliance Supports Creation of Aquifer Advisory Committee

The following letter was sent to the Independent and the Sun.

To the Editor:

Ossipee Lake Alliance supports the creation of an Aquifer Advisory Committee, and we hope area residents—including non-resident taxpayers from the lake—will learn more about it at Green Mountain Conservation Group’s “ice cream social” gathering in Freedom Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. on July 17.

As the primary source of drinking water for six towns, the Ossipee Aquifer is vitally important to our area. In acknowledgement, voters over the years have approved regulations mandating protections for the aquifer in regard to population growth and business development. Yet the past year has reminded us there is still work to be done to align our communities in protection efforts.

The past year brought the approval of the Westward Shores expansion despite strong objections by Freedom and Effingham, which used their abutter status to argue that the approval threatens the aquifer and violates Ossipee’s floodplain zoning regulations. Freedom has sued Ossipee over the matter.

The year also brought the approval of a gas station complex in West Ossipee’s Groundwater Protection District, where Ossipee’s zoning prohibits such uses. Ossipee denied the right of abutting towns to have standing in the matter, and when Tamworth officials expressed their concerns anyway, they were criticized for the laxity of their own regulations.

We cannot recall a time in which our area’s communities have been so publicly at odds with one another. The fact that the issue of disagreement centers on an irreplaceable shared resource that is vitally important to our future is a warning sign that something needs to change.

Reasonable people can disagree reasonably, as the old expression goes. But we are certain everyone can agree that the Ossipee Aquifer doesn’t recognize town borders. That means it’s up to the six affected towns to get on the same page. The Aquifer Advisory Committee can be a great start to that process, and we hope to see you at the meeting on July 17.

Susan Marks
David Smith
Co-Executive Directors
Ossipee Lake Alliance

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