Ways to Protect Our Water

You probably remember past calls for hydrological studies to accompany requests for development--especially in the part of the county where water supplies are trapped in rock pockets and not in underground streams. At that time, these calls were dismissed as another way to fight "growth." Now we are in crisis and there must be protection of both those who are longtime residents of the county and those who wish to share the well and septic lifestyle. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Water recharge areas must be identified. This is in the Comprehensive Plan but has yet to be implemented.

2. Riparian buffers around stream valleys must be identified and the standards put into regulations.

3. Numbers 1 and 2 should certainly be considered when identification of the purchase of development rights issue is addressed.

4. No rezoning requests may be granted until it has been proven that adequate water and septic exists for that site and the number of buildings proposed.

5. The septic/drinking water requirements must be clarified not only for a subdivision but also for those residents already in place who may be affected by runoff.

6. The buyers of new houses should be given a written explanation (by the Health Department) of the water problems present in their location. The buyers also must be provided with the flow per minute of the well and specific instructions as to the care of the septic system.

7. Those residents who have a creek running through their property must be given some protections from the water predators, which come in the form of landscapers watering trees planted at new houses; well-drillers who need to cap off a new well; some who build chimneys and lay bricks for new homes.

This problem arises from personal experience. These people arrive with tanks that hold anywhere from 350 to 600 gallons and make several trips. There is never permission requested and most become somewhat abusive when confronted. The farmer who needs to provide water for livestock or might consider irrigation has never taken the water in such a manner and would certainly ask permission of the water were needed. If new houses already had working wells, this kind of rude behavior would not be a problem.

8. Finally, the Board of Supervisors must expand the public education of this most serious problem. Because of the geological differences within this county (the limestone areas, the lack of underground water sources that are reliable and easily identified, the steep slopes and the streams that require protection), we need clear information to the citizens.

We need better ordinances and reliable protection for citizens when those ordinances are violated.

MARY HOCKERSMITH

Purcellville