Editorial

Public Health? Priceless

Nobody wants to see our beautiful East End overdeveloped, with house on top of house cluttering up our gorgeous vistas.

Nobody wants to give up that country feel of private wells, and incur the expense of a monthly water bill.

Nobody wants to perennially bathe with, wash our dishes with, or be required to drink bottled water.

Nobody wants cancer, either, or any of the myriad illnesses contaminated water can cause.

We’re going to go with Assemblyman Fred Thiele on this one. Given the frequency and variety of reports of water contamination on the Twin Forks, it’s time to consider a regional plan for the extension of public water.

The reason for opposition no longer holds up.

For years, prevailing sentiment held that public water equals overdevelopment. Bringing public water to out-of-the-way parcels slated for subdivision made it easier for a developer to sell properties, people believed. And that might have been true . . . 20, 30 years ago.

But our local towns have strict zoning in place to monitor growth. Officials need to use it because, as the assemblyman told The Independent this week, “Public health trumps growth.”

As more and more threats to the quality of our water — our drinking water and our area water bodies — are revealed, as contamination that requires long term solutions is discovered, communities have to know one of their most basic human needs is met safely. We can’t rely on aging private wells, and in some areas, we can’t rely on the safety of the water our wells are pumping.

It won’t be cheap and it won’t be easy and it won’t be quick. The moving parts are many and, with public entities and agencies involved, the process of developing a regional public water plan will be labored and long. It will cost taxpayers extra.

But whatever the price, it’s a bargain when what’s at stake is our health.