Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

March 10, 2007

It's smart to expand cities' water supplies

The Sun's editorial "Respecting a scarce resource" (March 6) criticized municipalities in the Piedmont region of Maryland for their response to problems caused by the reinterpretation of data by the Maryland Department of the Environment that will lead to a significant reduction in the volume of groundwater they can use for public drinking water.

The editorial condemned legislation introduced by state Sen. David R. Brinkley on behalf of several municipalities as shortsighted, and derided the suggestion that lack of municipal water capacity would push development into rural areas and onto large lots served by wells and septic systems.

I think that attitude is shortsighted.

Maryland is growing and will have more than 1 million additional people by 2025. Municipalities quite logically have been targeted for growth in Maryland as state-created Smart Growth areas because they are existing population centers with the infrastructure to accommodate development.

Growth centered in and around cities and towns ensures that sprawl is avoided and that farms, forests and open spaces are protected. Growth in and around municipalities is desirable, well-planned growth.

And despite The Sun's protestations, growth that cities and towns cannot accommodate because of a lack of adequate public water will indeed still occur, but in the form of sprawl development, which uses wells and septic systems to meet water and sewer needs.

The Maryland Municipal League is working with Mr. Brinkley, the MDE, the state Department of Planning and other affected parties to look at nonlegislative alternatives to address this problem.

We hope to find common ground that both protects water and serves Smart Growth principles by channeling growth to cities and towns.

David E. Carey

Bel Air

The writer is president of the Maryland Municipal League and a commissioner for the town of Bel Air.

Ritzy development leaves poor behind

Sunday's article on Harbor East made me sick ("Harbor East Boomtown," March 4).

Harbor East is a miracle only to those spoiled enough to have the unlimited wealth to buy what it offers.

For the rest of us, Harbor East glaringly represents Baltimore's skewed priorities - its focus on attracting business while ignoring the plight of its other neighborhoods and the people who live in them.

What ails Baltimore is the belief, embodied by the O'Malley and Schmoke administrations, that development solves all ills.

Development makes Baltimore look healthy.

But all it really does is play a shell game with the underlying problems as we develop one neighborhood and then another while moving the displaced residents and their poverty further from sight.

Rather than luring businesses with obscene tax breaks, the mayor, the City Council and city business leaders should commit to finding solutions to the real problems facing this city: poverty, a lousy school system, a nonfunctional public transportation system and the fact that many city residents lack health insurance and face drug addiction.

Creating living-wage jobs, fostering changes to the structure of the city's public education system, forcing companies doing business here to pay their fair share of taxes, among many other solutions, would truly make Baltimore a livable city for all who live here - not selling $500 handbags to those who don't care how most people in this city live.

Maria Allwine

Baltimore

Hygienists can help boost access to care

Last week, the nation focused its attention on a Maryland family. Unfortunately, the attention was the result of a tragic example of a lack of access to dental care.

A young boy in Largo lost his life after an undiagnosed severely decayed tooth became abscessed, which eventually led to a deadly brain infection.

As a mother of three and a dental hygienist, I was particularly disturbed to hear of this senseless loss.

Access to dental care needs to be addressed, locally and nationally.

Children run the highest risk of developing cavities, which can lead to school absences, poor nutrition, infection, tooth loss and, in rare cases, death.

Adults also face significant dental risks in addition to decay - including periodontitis, a gum disease that has been linked to heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and pre-term labor.

Maryland has the dubious distinction of ranking eighth in the nation for the number of deaths from oral cancer.

Oral cancer, tooth decay and periodontitis are all very treatable and manageable diseases when detected early.

The best way to increase access to dental professionals for those in need is to allow dental hygienists to increase their scope of practice.

They must be enabled to screen children in school settings, screen the elderly in nursing homes and retirement communities and screen the disadvantaged in homeless shelters and other public assistance sites.

That way, the hygienists could make a proper referral for care before another tragic and senseless death is caused by lack of access to care.

Maura Ordovensky

Columbia

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