Wells threatened by lack of regulation

October 20, 2011


An Oct. 14 Aegis editorial noted that justice was served when Aberdeen received $2.5 million from a class action suit in a groundwater contamination case. A gasoline leak contaminated Aberdeen's water supply well with benzene, which causes cancer, and the settlement was for costs the city incurred because of the leak. The editorial noted "Aberdeen has been fortunate insofar as the municipal drinking water supply ... could relatively easily be supplemented by the county's water system."

Upon reading this, I couldn't help wondering why, on July 11, the Aberdeen City Council approved a new gas station inside of Harford's wellhead protection area (i.e. unacceptably close to a major water supply well). Is Aberdeen going to supply clean water to Harford if that gas station contaminates Harford's well? Why did the Aberdeen City Council override the city's Planning Commission, which decided that Aberdeen and Harford should work together to protect wellheads?

Now it gets even crazier — the Harford County Council just introduced Bill 11-48 to allow gas stations to expand at will near peoples' private water wells! No more County Council reviews to see if the expansion is safe at a particular location. No chance to add conditions that could change an unsafe expansion into something acceptable. Completely ignores the recommendations of five members of the Council-appointed MTBE and Gas Storage Task Force of January 2009 (Supplemental Report).

Finally, once the County Council surrenders its authority and responsibility to protect our wells, I believe it will be impossible to stop new gas stations being built anywhere in Harford. Just ask the residents of Fallston, Black Horse, or Jacksonville how that can turn out.

Morita Bruce


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