Not worth the risk
The Aug. 6, 2014, Times Argus editorial, “The Lesson of Toledo,” rightly asserts that Toledo, Ohio’s water situation should be “a wake-up call for Vermont.” However, Vermont’s drinking water reliance extends beyond Lake Champlain.
Our wake-up call should begin at home — by protecting the water that comes out of the tap at the Conservation Law Foundation’s offices, the Agency of Natural Resources’ offices and the office of the governor.
Berlin Pond is the only possible drinking water source for Montpelier and parts of Berlin, including the hospital. Twenty-thousand people per day depend on this Capital City water supply source. Failure to protect Berlin Pond exposes our water source supply to unnecessary challenges, including algae blooms capable of shutting off our water, killing fish and sickening humans, as well as other invasive species with the potential to threaten our drinking water.
How many people actually adhere to the canoe and kayak cleaning protocols that could protect Berlin Pond from invasives? When moving boats from one water body to another, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration instructs to thoroughly clean all boat parts and equipment and allow the boat to dry for “five days in warm, dry weather and up to 30 days in cool, moist weather.” (http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/pdf/best_management_practices/Cleaning%20of%20Watercraft%20and%20Equipment.pdf).
With over 39 water bodies to recreate in within 30 miles of Berlin Pond, my husband and I will swim and paddle elsewhere. We urge the Agency of Natural Resources to make it official. It’s just not worth the risk.
Yet, when a 2012 Supreme Court ruling stated that Berlin Pond fell under state jurisdiction (not under the city, which had protected the pond’s surface water from human activity for over 100 years), the Agency of Natural Resources failed to protect Berlin Pond from surface water activity while reviewing petitions that would return Berlin Pond to protection.
Berlin Pond’s filtration system was built to process water with no human activity. Unlike Lake Champlain, the pond is small, shallow and silty, with a drinking water intake barely 17 feet below the surface. Every hand, every oar, every piece of trash that goes into it degrades our drinking water quality. Visit www.protectberlinpond.org to learn more about the immediate threat to our drinking water, and join Vermonters at the Saturday rally at 11 a.m. on the State House lawn to protect safe, clean drinking water.
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