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A vote for expanding the Chatham water system

By Brit Pfann
Posted Monday, February 23, 2004

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Chatham County has the least productive aquifers of all of North Carolina's hundred counties. Some areas have no underground water at all (e.g. - Harper's Crossroads) and without county water systems, people who have lived in those areas would have to live on cistern-collected and bottled water. This has health and cost implications that would drive most of us out of the county.

Other areas are on the edge: the Silk Hope School is very close to not having enough water to keep its doors open, and continues to operate on water extracted from their well during night and weekend hours, and stored in the large tank at the edge of the ballfield.

Evildoers in this case are are individual families and small local developers.

As development continues and accelerates, more and more people will be drilling wells, and competing for the same small pool of underground water. Big subdivisions are putting in pipelines, and using water from Pittsboro, Lake Jordan, or (maybe someday) Siler City municipal sources. So the evildoers in this case are are individual families and small local developers, and not the Briar Chapels of our future.

Should your well run dry, you'll find that you have a mortgage to pay on a house you can't live in. There's no justice that assures that the last person to drill a well will be the first person to lose it - it may be the person whose family has farmed here for 100 years, or possibly the well of a long term ChathamMohican who got here early and is now concerned about continuing development.

So personally - I'm in favor of a county water system, and of its timely, methodical, and cost effective installation. May this happen before an emergency situation develops that has all of the people who are currently content with their wells clamoring for an expensive crash water system installation when they personally turn on their tap, and find nothing comes out. Its the old story of the difference between an economic recession and a depression.

As for esthetics - our well water is highly mineralized, and makes expremely lousy coffee. We pay the extra expense to drink bottled water. Water out of a county system will probably not be the excellent stuff that New Yorkers take for granted, but is likely to be better than what comes out of the ground on our land. Could be different (and I hope it is) in your neighborhood?

As for safety - a municipal water system is checked regularly for biological (and also chemical hazards - I guess). When was the last time somebody checked your well for you?

Will we have more development because of county water systems? Probably - and some of that development will be commercial/light industrial, as exists in Randolf County, and contributes positively to their tax base.

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A vote for expanding the Chatham water system

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