Letters to the Editor
March 12, 2008
As a groundwater hydrologist who has been working in this realm in Vermont for the past 25 years, I can’t tell you how happy I am that groundwater is finally getting the attention it deserves from both the Vermont Legislature and interested citizens. It is truly exciting to me to see the interest in this unique, and often misunderstood, natural resource. On the other hand, I am seeing a lot of misconceptions about groundwater being presented as solid truth that are either simply not true or for which there is not adequate study to state with conviction. In your recent article “Groundwater Rising,” a few of these misconceptions are discussed.
For a naturally flowing spring, collecting the groundwater overflow would not be extraction from the aquifer, it would simply be the collection of this groundwater that naturally overflows to the earth’s surface from the aquifer. However, collection of this groundwater and taking it away in bottles is extraction from the watershed. This can have the result of affecting streamflows, aquatic habitat, and groundwater recharge. The blanket usage of the term “extraction” requires more thought and explanation than I have seen in discussions concerning bottled water.
Also, concerning claims of streamflow depletion and aquatic habitat degradation, particularly concerning Blaisdell Brook in Randolph, there is no shortage of hearsay, and basically no scientific evidence. Being a firm believer in the scientific method, I would like to see a scientific study completed before any claims of aquatic habitat degradation are stated as truth.
HOW MUCH WATER IS ENOUGH?
I found “Groundwater Rising” [February 27] very disturbing. Due to our apparent lack of knowledge about this resource, and due to the uncertainties about how climate change will affect our region’s weather patterns, we have no way of knowing just how plentiful this resource is and will be. That is why I found the statement “there is more [water] than anyone in Vermont would ever need or be able to use anyway” to be so alarming. If we are so fortunate as to have a high-quality resource, we need to use it wisely. Until we know more, I fully support the “public trust” and precautionary principle doctrines that other states have adopted.
How ANR handled the journalist’s request for information was even more disturbing. The fact that this is happening indicates several things to me: The Douglas administration is very effective at getting what it wants; the legislature is ineffective; and the people of Vermont are too complacent.
Why else would these “communications” personnel be on the state payroll? Ostensibly their jobs are to “communicate,” but in reality their jobs appear to be to filter or hinder the transfer of information between state employees and the public, and to control and spin information that comes from the state agencies.
These tactics seem eerily similar to those followed by the Bush administration, except the Douglas administration seems to be able to do it under the radar. If an article is being written about groundwater in Vermont, then we should be able to hear from our state hydrologist.
I really enjoy Rick Kisonak’s film reviews. I also like his occasional articles about television programs. More often than not, his comments, especially about the state of television, make me laugh in a good way.
I think that Matt Sacco was pretty harsh in his criticism. And his choice of words was unpleasant: “vomited” and “twaddle”? Please.
I have chosen to see movies that Rick has recommended. Most recently, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. I was not disappointed. Excellent film. If I read nothing else in Seven Days, I always read Jernigan Pontiac’s “Hackie” and Rick’s film reviews.