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Coupeville: Save water for developers?
The dirty secret about water conservation is that it enables more population growth. In the fall of 2000, Mayor Conard admitted to the State Department of Health that our wells were being pumped to capacity and that saltwater intrusion was a problem. The solution, as she saw it, was to raise water rates 47 percent, with a further increase of 50 percent during the summer. This information is in a brochure published by State Health Department and can be obtained from them.
High water rates cannot make it rain, nor do they hold back the sea. We would like to think that when our lawns turn brown and our showers grow short we are saving a resource for a good reason. The truth is that we are saving water so that Cecil Sturrmans and others can develop hundreds of housing units and commercial buildings.
We are trading affordable water for affordable housing, which will be built quickly, sold rapidly and affect our property taxes and quality of life. This affordable housing will reach market value and then will have to be replaced by more affordable housing in a game that benefits no one but developers who no doubt live far enough outside town not to have to deal with the impact they create in order to make money. Coupeville, part of the National Park Service, will lose many of the qualities taxpayers have paid millions of dollars to preserve.
If we are paying among the highest water rates in the state, what will water cost when population quickly increases by hundreds of new residents who will use more than the amount of water we have been urged and forced to conserve? Someday soon we may realize how serious our situation really is, but by then it will be too late.
The celebrated and highly-respected writer Wallace Stenger once write to me, Our planning is done for us by subdividers and developers and builders of spec houses, and except for the indignation of neighbors, we have no way of stopping it. Eventually the overuse of water will stop it, but at enormous human cost.
Town government is responsible legally and morally to protect Coupeville residents from a water emergency that before long will imperil our health, our lives and our wallets.