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By Geordy Richards
Imagine a perfectly fresh lake, its water pure enough to quench any thirst, pure enough to baptize, pure enough to clean any wound. You have to imagine this lake because it will never be seen by human eyes. But this lake is not imaginary, it exists.
It exists right here in our valley. The chances are as you read this you are sitting near this lake and can look from your patio at the unobstructed view (no high condos possible without a water system -- that's Malibu's secret) of the Green Mountains that sit above it.
But a select few -- 200 supposedly, though the list is miraculously non-existent, though I am sure they will step forward when the bill comes due to pay -- want to flush toilets with it. Mind you, where all this flushing is supposed to go is a mystery since the sewer system project was deep-sixed when the powers that be saw their water project as doomed with it attached. Hmmm, wonder when and from where that will re-emerge? From some septic system, I suppose.
Now these nameless 200, emboldened by the Supreme Court ruling in Kelo vs. New London making it lawful for town governments to seize property via eminent domain if it benefited the "public good," convinced the powers to, instead of paying for it in honest trade, just take it. But since tap water for 200 individuals isn't "public good" in anyone's book they got crafty and decided the town needed fire hydrants. What a lovely public serving and feel-good idea. Why pump firefighting water from the river that flows through town within 100 yards of any house (or the town pond for that matter) as done successfully for centuries when we can have suburbia-like fire hydrants?
And this reasoning was good enough for them and they started drilling. No debate, no check for fiscal responsibility, they started drilling. And surveying and drawing site diagrams and whatever else raised the amount already spent to $1.1 million. That's a lot of wells. I bet the town could drill one for every Irasville resident for 1.1 million unauthorized-by-town-vote-or-any-other-lawful-means dollars.
But now the leaders are in a tricky spot. The issue was voted down twice, but now the pot is too big to fold and pride too suddenly heavy to admit a mistake. (I thought only our federal leaders suffer from hubris? Guess not.) So they will reference some bond voting statute (as if this is really about some bond) and keep putting the issue to vote come hell or high water. And they add nice addendum, the town can save $25-grand using this system for the elementary school's water upgrade. Who doesn't want kids drinking good water? Hmmm, how many upgrade savings can be had for $1.1 million? (', I'm a math teacher when not farming.)
And they even have the gall to extort this unauthorized expenditure from the taxpayers by reminding us who pays the bill for their gross irresponsibility if the bond doesn't pass. Wow.
So it's a debacle. And I won't even go into the chlorination regulations that the immense holding tank needed to feed the hydrants will invariably require that will turn this perfect lake into a swimming pool. I like my lakes and rivers. And my view of the Green Mountains knowing the water will be there beneath them waiting patiently as it has for millennia until the entire town really needs it. Flush this man-made effluent issue and not our foresight and not nature's purest gift. And take a picnic in the field at the end of Reed Road -- just bring edibles, the water will be waiting.
Geordy Richards lives in Waitsfield.
Editor's Note: The water project will not be chlorinated. Waitsfield voters repeatedly approved budgets at Town Meeting which had water/sewer projects development costs identified by line item. The town has a legal obligation to act when citizens petition for a revote.