Thursday, August 12, 2010

Imagine a Green Wellfleet ....

NOTE: This post was chosen September 1 as part of the Healthy Child Blog Carnival about Clean Water and Air Solutions (an effort by Healthy Child, Healthy World to help inspire a movement to protect children from harmful chemicals).

Green Wellfleet does not have to be only a dream ... I have been given permission to form a working group, under the aegis of the Economic Development Committee, to study shifting Wellfleet green and non-toxic. More and more communities are taking this route. For instance, Marblehead, MA and Dubuque, Iowa, whose green initiative is described in this PBS report. A green Wellfleet is particularly important for all the young children who live here. The well water they drink every day should not require a filter.

You may have read yesterday in the Cape Cod Times that a coalition has been formed to stop the utility company from spraying up to five herbicides under the power lines. Beyond Pesticides reported on the coalition today. It even made the WBZTV news.

As part of this effort, I followed up on my fall correspondence with EPA New England by writing to its new head Curt Spalding. (Note, I have eliminated the name of the utility because it tracks any mention on blogs, referring to it only as N, and will submit this post to the Healthy Child Carnival.) Here's the text of my letter, which Mr. Spalding received this morning:

"Please find enclosed the letter Congressman Delahunt wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson March 30, explaining how Cape Cod, with its sandy soil and sole source aquifer, should not receive the same herbicidal treatment as the rest of Massachusetts. I also enclose my earlier correspondence with your predecessor, Ms. Studlien.

Here on Cape Cod, our utility company has decided to spray five herbicides under the power lines to control vegetation, as currently allowed under Massachusetts law. In the past, N mowed to control the vegetation, as required by Federal law. We drink water from private wells. Despite a letter signed by all legislators, opposition from all towns that will be affected, thousands of signatures on petitions, and a one-year moratorium obtained by the Cape Cod Commission, N still intends to spray in 2011.

What more can Cape Cod citizens do to protect our precious drinking water?

Your EPA New England-Web-site Sole-Source-Aquifer page maintains, 'Local residents and businesses may be more willing to protect an aquifer through local action if they learn their drinking water originates from a vulnerable underground supply.' We DO know about vulnerable water supply. We DO seek to protect it. We DO NOT want our drinking water laced with herbicides. New research shows even small amounts can affect reproductive behavior.

Citizen groups have formed a coalition to urge N to return to mowing. A united effort is also needed from legislators, EPA New England, and the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. I hope you will work together to change the regulation that allows herbicidal spraying under power lines on Cape Cod. As our Congressman Bill Delahunt so wisely points out, special status should be accorded to any area with a sole-source aquifer where the majority of residents obtain drinking water from private wells. Please make this a priority."

How to you feel about toxic chemicals in the environment? What more can be done to protect groundwater? If you live on Cape Cod, are you concerned about N's plan to spray herbicides? If you live elsewhere, has your hometown banned herbicides, plastic bags? Which Wellfleet buildings should receive solar panels in priority? Any other green ideas you think the new working group should consider?