letters to the editor - 6/20

June 20, 2003

Water study wasn't crucial

To the editor:

Thomas Firey seems determined to portray Citizens For Protection of Washington County (CPWC) as some ominous organization "motivated by a hidden agenda." There is nothing hidden or secret about our agenda. Perhaps if Firey lived in Washington County, rather than Fairfax, Va., he would realize that and get to know us better.

CPWC has nothing to hide. We are just a group of ordinary citizens who care deeply about our community and wish to protect the great quality of life we all enjoy in Washington County.

CPWC meets the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., in the Downsville Ruritan Community Center - and we thank the Ruritans for their hospitality. These meetings are always open to the public. CPWC also has a Web site at, which explains why we exist and what we hope to accomplish. Anyone wishing to be added to our e-mail list may make his/her request at the Web site. Membership is not required. Of course, we always hope you will join but we certainly are not pushy.


Among other things, Firey finds it strange that CPWC members "claim to worry about Washington County's groundwater," yet were "strangely silent" when Eric Greene offered to do a water budget analysis for the county.

Again, there is no mystery. We already had a lot of irons in the fire when Greene appeared on the scene and while Greene's offer was interesting and showed some potential value, it wasn't free - the estimated cost was $60,000 plus - and didn't look like a must-have item at the time.

Greene promised that his study would result in a map of Washington County showing approximate quantities of groundwater in the various regions. However, he made no promise of predicting water purity in any area. The first question is: What would Washington County do with this information? It could be used as a planning tool to direct development into those areas with plenty of underground water and to stop development in the dry areas. But would politics allow that to happen? What if the Firey farm happened to be in a dry zone? Would he accept his fate or would he declare the act unconstitutional and demand that it be repealed?

We don't need a water budget analysis to tell us that, during a drought, the water table drops in all regions and the more new wells you drill, the lower the table will drop. We also know that more septic tanks going into the ground will increase the probability of polluted groundwater in any area of the county. So even if a study shows plenty of groundwater in a given region in a normal year, there would be little assurance that everyone in the neighborhood would continue to have a clean water supply after hundreds of new wells and septic systems are installed.

So Mr. Firey, that is why CPWC didn't jump on your bandwagon. CPWC did recommend that developers be required to drill test wells - at their expense - whenever they develop land not served by public water systems. Maybe you should just be happy that we didn't oppose your idea.

In conclusion, you should know that many Washington County taxpayers have grown weary of paying for expensive studies that go nowhere.

Jim Laird

CPWC president


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