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Letters to the editor

October 22, 2003

Keeping water clean


To the editor:

The Oct. 11 front-page article "Official says bacteria is in 40 percent of County wells, contamination may cause diseases" highlights a significant public and environmental health problem - clean water. Citizens have a right to safe drinking water and our government is required to protect this basic right.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been actively calling for reduced pollution to our waterways and is currently working with farmers in this watershed to help reduce contamination by animal waste, which the health official quoted says is contributing to the problem.

Since 1996, CBF has installed more than 300 miles of fencing on farms that exclude livestock from waterways. Two years ago, the foundation launched its Farm Stewardship Program in Maryland, with its focus on the Antietam Creek Watershed. This program is a partnership of local watershed organizations, County Conservation Districts, fisherman and schoolchildren.

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The very morning the article appeared, more than 50 community volunteers were planting trees along 2,000 linear feet of Marsh Run (Antietam Creek watershed) on a dairy farm in Franklin County, Pa. where fencing had been installed just a few days before to keep dairy cows out of the stream.

We worked with a farmer last spring, fencing 1,000 feet of Marsh Run, and the farmer stated that stream bank fencing and reforestation along streams must become mandatory if we hope to restore the Antietam watershed.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Antietam Creek Watershed has lost 79 percent of its streamside forest buffers. A single defecation by a dairy cow produces enough bacteria to make the equivalent of six backyard pools unsafe for swimmers. Fifty cows allowed unrestricted access to a stream for a 24-hour period could contaminate the equivalent of one day's water supply for the City of Baltimore.

The Washington County Health Department has stated that "this is not a problem that is new and has been a problem since the '60s," and yet there has not been a push from officials to remove livestock from streams and restore forest buffers. The article mentions the cost of $2,000 to $3,000 per each landowner for ultraviolet light water treatment system; however, this will not ensure clean drinking water.

In addition, the message should not be for citizens to install costly water treatment systems to obtain clean drinking water, but to prevent the pollution of our waters in the first place.

It is time for the Washington County Commissioners to do everything in their power to ensure safe drinking water to county residents. Fencing cattle out of streams and planting forest buffers is one of the most efficient means in pollution prevention and a huge step in the right direction. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and local partners stand ready to assist farmers in this practice.

Rob Schnabel
Watershed Restoration Scientist
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Annapolis, Md.




Death has meaning


To the editor:

Death seems to be less serious to people who have yet to experience it; until a few weeks ago I was one of those people.

I was fortunate enough to have never lost a friend or family member to any other causes either until recently when, on Sept. 8, a very good friend of mine who was an incredible person all around, passed away in an unexpected automobile accident. It was after his death that I realized it is not enough to simply ask: "Why?"

Death brings the understanding that moving on does not mean forgetting, it means embracing the heartfelt memories more than ever. Michael Gabriel Spurlock led an exuberant life, filled will the most outstanding of accomplishments including: a beautiful fiance, a wonderful new job, and an extraordinary new house along the shore that, now, would never be used.

Following his passing I felt myself in an unusual circumstance in accordance with my usual beliefs. My qualms were of the religious kind, ranging from disbelief to malcontentment. When I was first presented with the news of my good friend's passing, I hadn't known what to expect.

After a brief period of sobbing, which is a rarity on my part, I began to wonder who or what would allow this to happen. The "divine" has always been something people wish to aspire to, yet many fail to see its true meaning. His death made me realize that the divine is something that makes life worth living.

It is something that makes everyone's inner child scream, "Thank God it's Friday!" Something that people long for at every dissenting moment, at every business meeting, in every classroom, at every place that drains someone of his or her mind.

The "divine" is happiness. By living his life to the fullest, Mike had reached the "divine." This is what made me question religion. If there is a greater power, what would make it strip the "divine," every man and woman's search for happiness, away from them?

Thoughts running through my mind of times that bring smiles only remind me that he was at his heaven, at his Eden.

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