The following is a letter to the editor. To submit your own, email email@example.com
By Ken Eyring
The Water Sustainability Commission is seeking input from the public regarding management of NH's water over the next 25 years -- but unfortunately, they are not consistent with their collection methods. They have published an online survey using Survey Monkey, and the questions are written in a way that can be easily skewed to support almost any conclusion. There is no way to ensure the integrity of the results, since anyone can log on and take the survey multiple times. In addition, from the beginning of July until July 19th, they accepted Public Comments without requiring identification.
Because of the importance of water to so many aspects of our lives, including life itself, my concerns were elevated as it became clear that the commission perceives all NH water as property of the state -- disregarding our riparian water rights to the water in the wells on our personal property.
With all that in mind, I wanted to make sure I provided my concerns to the misguided direction the commission has taken since its inception -- and to encourage everyone else to do the same by using this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via US Mail to the address below. The deadline to provide feedback is July 31st.
For your reference, you can look at their Meeting Minutes here:
Here is the letter that I sent:
Water Sustainability Commission
c/o Synchrony Advisors, LLC
10 Myrtle Street
Exeter, NH 03833
July 18, 2012
You have asked for public comment regarding “managing the water challenges faced by New Hampshire over the next 25 years.”
I’ll begin by expressing my belief that everything you eventually propose to the Governor should be based upon respect for our Constitutional Rights. In one of your recent meetings, one of your commissioners raised a concern for Constitutionality… and I was stunned to hear another commissioner dismiss those concerns by stating they will let the courts decide. That is a reckless disregard of the responsibilities that you have been entrusted with.
Your commissioners have also made statements that disregard our riparian rights to the well water on our personal property. Some examples include:
“Need to view water as a whole entity rather than whether it comes from a public system or private well.”
“Water is a state resource that belongs to the people – it needs to be worked on at that level.”
“Need to develop a collective sense of accountability for a resource so that people comprehend that sustainability can only be achieved with all working together.”
I disagree with these statements that the State should/does own all NH water.
Part First, Article 2 of the NH Constitution states; “All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this state on account of race, creed, color, sex or national origin.”
Water is an essential element for life. I am deeply disturbed that your commission assumes the state must usurp my property rights to take control of my well water on my property. Regulation of my well water translates into a direct regulation of my liberty.
When a state commission unilaterally decides, as yours has, that it has the authority to decide whether or not my right to my well water should be transformed into a regulated commodity… you have exceeded your charter – and our form of government has broken down.
From the beginning of your commission (from the spring of 2011), your commissioners have openly questioned individual property rights to our private well water. The following excerpt is taken directly from your minutes; “Valuing water – there was much discussion about need to challenge basic assumptions about the cost vs. value of water – is it a commodity or right?”
Let me be clear. It is a Right.
I’m am also disturbed that commissioners share a belief the water from our “private wells are too cheap”. Am I not entitled to enjoy the inexpensive extraction of water from my well on a daily basis after spending thousands of dollars up front to gain access to it?
This leads me to your commission's statement that people “need to think differently about accounting – what do people currently measure – how could they measure?” Does this mean that you are/will consider pushing for legislation to have a meter placed on my private well in order to regulate my usage of my well water (that you consider the State's)? This seems a logical assumption based upon the fact that your commission believes I am not the owner of the water in my well and that my water is currently too cheap. I would like for you to respond to this question to my address above.
Additional concerns of mine are based upon the commission’s desire to impress a sense of “urgency” (your word) for a solution where a problem does not exist. Your commission has previously stated multiple times that NH is a “water rich state”, and we currently have mechanisms in place to protect the quality of that water.
My suggestion for your proposal to the Governor is to leave well enough alone – especially here in Windham. Each local community already has the resources and structure in place to manage their water needs, and there are already mechanisms for state help when towns have difficulty with water, e.g. assistance when there is flooding (emergency plan); or droughts (drought management plan); or potential contamination (DES, etc…).