Protecting Water Supplies

I was pleasantly surprised to read in Southern Maryland Extra that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) favors conservation measures regarding the seven major aquifers that serve Southern Maryland ["In Charles, Ehrlich Promotes Cover Crops Program," Aug. 28].

This is an issue that I and others have attempted to bring to the attention of many state and local officials for several years.

It is my understanding that state law requires local authorities to ensure that adequate water supplies are available before approving a building permit, and to ensure that adequate capacity will be available to serve a proposed development before approving a subdivision. However, I continue to see a proliferation of new development in Charles County.

The executive summary of the Advisory Committee on the Management and Protection of the State's Water Resources, also referred to as the Wolman Report, identified topics for further study, including that a process be established to ensure that local governments approve developments based on the adequacy of the water supply. Has the state issued any directives mandating that local governments comply with this recommendation? If not, why has this process not been implemented?

"Charles County cannot supply the required water in 2030 . . . without draw-downs exceeding 80 percent management level at some locations," wrote David Drummond in a June 2005 report on the potential of Southern Maryland aquifers. The report further states: "River-water intrusion into the aquifers may cause the ground water to be unsuitable for some uses, such as human consumption" (emphasis added). This not only is a public health concern, but it can adversely impact local economic development. For example, if water supply or water quality is diminished, it will not only affect future development but will cause real estate values to drop significantly.

This issue requires immediate attention. Even though models suggest that it may be 25 years before water shortages occur, some residents could experience water supply and water quality problems several years prior to 2030. Many residents dependent upon private wells have already experienced water supply or water quality problems.

In my opinion, if development is allowed to continue at its current pace, all Charles County residents will experience water shortages of crisis proportions in the not-too-distant future.

I appreciate the governor's interest in this matter, and I hope that all of our elected officials give this matter the attention it deserves now.

Cheryl E. Thomas


Supporting SMECO

As chairman of the board of directors of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative Inc., I would like to thank the more than 2,000 members who attended SMECO's annual members' meeting on Aug. 31 and exercised their right to vote. Your interest and support are instrumental to the success of your electric cooperative.

On behalf of the entire board, I pledge to continue our efforts to provide the lowest possible rates and uphold SMECO's tradition of outstanding service to our members.

Thank you again for your confidence and support.

Daniel W. Dyer


Our Rescue Volunteers

I recently had the honor of attending the Prince Frederick Volunteer Rescue Squad's 40th anniversary awards ceremony. What an amazing group of volunteers who are dedicated to serving the Calvert County community. These men and women participated in an average of 200 runs per person; the highest individual total was 830. They saved lives.

This is an incredible amount of time and energy. It is done on a volunteer basis and in addition to full-time jobs, families, church and other community involvement. This happens every single day in every volunteer fire and rescue squad up and down the county.

I just want to say thank you to all the Calvert County fire and rescue volunteers who so selflessly serve the county. We truly are indebted to you for the work that you do.

Del. Sue Kullen


Prince Frederick

Backed Up on the Bridge

In case no one's noticed, backups and delays are becoming a regular occurrence on the Thomas Johnson crossing that bridges the gap between St Mary's and Calvert counties at Solomons. I can assume that the factors that are contributing to this almost daily nightmare (shades of Northern Virginia) are related to the increased build-up in the area, with the spotlight on St. Mary's booming development and growth rate.

Much of the increase in vehicles can be attributed to the many deliveries that are required to keep the shelves full at Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Staples and a host of others on the way. Some of the trucks, understandably, have a problem mounting the steep grade of the bridge. That, added to the overly cautious drivers who are terrified by the sheer height of the structure and creep up one side and coast down the other, contributes to the backup that stretches for miles in both directions.

I wish to call an ever-worsening situation to the attention of those who plan our traffic system, so that they may begin now to study the situation before it deteriorates further.

Short of a new bridge span, widening the approach road would do little, if anything, to improve the congestion. I would propose some attempt to educate the driving public on the necessity of maintaining a given speed ascending and descending the span. Some minimum-speed and maintain-speed signs could serve as reminders to those who choose to sightsee at the summit of the bridge or leave a multi-car gap between vehicles.

C'mon, folks; gas is too expensive to spend an hour idling in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Gerald Watson


Concert Series a Success

The arts outreach office of St. Mary's College of Maryland expresses its deep appreciation to the Southern Maryland community for its seventh year of tremendous support for the 2005 River Concert Series. The enthusiasm of thousands of people of all ages who attended the concerts each week played a major role in the overwhelming success of what has become a summer tradition on our campus.

We are extremely grateful for your generosity in filling the collection buckets. We raised over $18,500, which qualifies the audience to be a full Series Sponsor for the 2006 River Concert Series and sets a new standard of giving for future audiences to achieve.

Under the superb direction of music director Jeffrey Silberschlag, the Chesapeake Orchestra and featured guest artists provided consistently outstanding performances, resulting in standing ovations from delighted audiences.

The generosity of local community businesses, organizations and many individuals enabled the concerts to remain free, and we are grateful for their participation. We welcomed nine new sponsors to the 2005 River Concert Series. We also want to thank dedicated St. Mary's College employees Katie Combs, Missy Farren, Joanne Romer and others from the office of development; Josh Davis, Janet Haugaard, Lee Capristo and others from the office of publications; Sam Goddard, Jermaine Smith, George Lancaster, Jenny Sivak and others from the physical plant; the public safety office; the office of media and public relations; the music department; and the events office for their tireless efforts.

We are grateful to the Arts Alliance steering committee members who hosted each concert, cheerfully handed out programs and sold River Concert caps, visors and Governor's Cup posters. In addition, many thanks to the growing number of members of the Arts Alliance whose duties and donations help keep the River Concerts free for everyone.

Barbara Bershon

Arts outreach coordinator

St. Mary's College of Maryland