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LETTER: My Reply to the NH Water Sustainability Commission's Request For Public Comment

A letter to the editor was submitted by Windham resident Ken Eyring.

The following is a letter to the editor. To submit your own, email michael.ryan@patch.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: watersustainabilitycommission@gmail.com, 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:
http://www.nh.gov/water-sustainability/calendar/index.htm

Here is the letter that I sent:

Water Sustainability Commission
c/o Synchrony Advisors, LLC
10 Myrtle Street
Exeter, NH 03833
 
July 18, 2012


Dear Commissioners,
 
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…).

Respectfully,
 
Ken Eyring
Windham, NH

Jane Aitken July 25, 2012 at 04:30 PM
You can blame Governor John Lynch for creating this Water Commission by Executive Order in 2011 which was to bring us in line with 'international' goals of water management. I am imagining how homeowners will react to someone coming onto their property to 'meter' their private wells for the purpose of taxing them. I know what I will do.
Jane Aitken July 25, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Here is Lynch's EO, signed on Earth Day of course... http://www.governor.nh.gov/media/news/2011/042211-earth-day.htm In other states across the nation, I have read where there was an attempt to prevent the use of storm water run off to water gardens or, to tax it.
Mike July 25, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I hate to see any personal rights or freedom impacted by the State but have you considered that all private wells eventually tap into the aquifers that run beneath our properties. Consider an extreme but valid case where abuse may occur. If I decide to water my lawn day and night in a draught and to the extent that I impact the availability of drinking water to your house - are you concerned? What if I'm able to gain the permits to operate a 'Poland Spring' franchise and begin a bottling operation using far more than my 'fair share' OR what if I through recklessness or whatever cause pollute or damage the aquifer that we all draw from - what then?
Jane Aitken July 25, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Obviously if I feel the water in my well is very low, I am not going to water my lawn instead of having water for cooking and bathing. Because ownership means responsibility, I will do what I have to until the situation is remedied with rain or snow melt. There is no way possible that anyone is going to come onto my property and 'meter' my private well, unless they would also like to take over the payments for the pumps I have installed in the last 23 years.
Ken Eyring July 25, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Hi Mike, We already have rules for reasonable use -- and those rules protect against excessive extraction of water by your neighbors. We also have riparian rights to our water, which the Commission is choosing to ignore. A short explanation of water rights can be found here. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Water+Rights We also have other protections in place as well -- but I have not seen where the commission mentions them anywhere in their discussions.
Dave Kopacz July 25, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Well Mike, assuming the judicial branch of government is working properly, the moment your actions result in the impact to another person's rights, you get sued and justice should prevail. This type of issue should be handled on a case-by-case basis and nobody is tripped of their rights preemptively. Although the examples you gave are realistic possibilities, they would clearly be the exception and not the norm. There will always be stupid people that do stupid things, but we can't regulate for stupidity without stripping innocent people of their rights, without "due process" as required under the Constitution. Water policy is being used all across the country as a control mechanism to development and agriculture. Heck, people are being fined and jailed for using a rain barrel to collect rain water for their vegetable gardens....that's big government insanity. Worse yet is the fact that if NH falls for this type of water-use scheme, people will find that UNelected UNaccountable bureaucracies will be the one's calling the shots and you won't EVER have access to them at the ballot box. Keep local control........REJECT REGIONAL WATER USE POLICIES!
Mike July 25, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Thanks for the link - I needed that (never heard the term riparian before). I hate to see more regulation if the laws in place are working. I guess we're fortunate to be 'water rich' so some of the issues other states are facing are not our problem, at least not today. I agree with Jane on not wanting a meter or monitoring of my usage but then again I think I'm an exception in my neighborhood (my irrigation is off - a brown lawn will recover and my rain barrel handles the garden) BUT I have neighbors that insist on running their systems morning and night WITH hoses/sprinklers too. Keep up the good fight we really don't need another beauracracy or excessive regulation!
Ken Eyring July 25, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Thanks Mike. I appreciate hearing your thoughts.
Sam Bolini July 26, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Ken, head down to Wal-Mart, I hear they are having a big sale on tin foil. You may want to make a few more hats.
Ken Eyring July 26, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Hi Sam, It's clear you did not read what I wrote, and you did not read the meeting minutes of the commission. There are some people that prefer big government with control over everything. If that is your preference, that's fine with me. I have different beliefs. I value my God given rights, including property rights, water rights, and riparian rights. Nothing in what I wrote goes outside of those concerns. If you feel differently and prefer more government control over your water, then I encourage you to send your thoughts to the Water Sustainability Commission. That is how our Democratic Republic should work.
ET Reed July 26, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Beware of the seductive use of the word "sustainable" in any form. Beware of any group that uses the word. To maintain their idea of sustainability, someone controls, and others give up something to others. Unconstitutional!!!!! Very Obamaish!!!
Travis Blais July 26, 2012 at 02:33 PM
These special sustainability and/or planning commissioners never answer the most basic type of question, in this case: What is wrong with current, longstanding riparian rights law as a means to govern this issue? If something is wrong, why don't we work through the normal, agreed-upon democratic process to fix it? The answer is almost always that the democratic process isn't reaching what some elite group views as the "right" answer. So they'll create an unaccountable, quasi-governmental body with ambiguous legal standing to force the "right" answer on us. Let's put our faith and confidence back in constitutional democracy. We can't succeed without it. Follow the law. If you don't like it, change it through the democratic process.
Jane Aitken July 26, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Well said Travis. For starters, we wonder where the Governor got his mandate to create such a commission in the first place? Appointed members then consult with corporate foundations who provide 'facilitators' to help them guide you to the 'right' answer. Where, pray tell, does the average voter get to have a say in what seems like a pre-determined outcome? Seems like the whole process favors certain entities and is unconstitutional.
Ernie Bridge July 26, 2012 at 09:25 PM
"The arrogance of office" at work here. There are always people who are covinced that they are so much smarter than the rest of us that the have he right to guide us ordinary people. Let us hope we elect a less arrogant person this November.
Ken Eyring July 27, 2012 at 06:56 PM
For those of you who think this is much about nothing... you need to read this article about a man in Oregon who was arrested because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater. According to Oregon water laws, all water is publicly owned. This is what happens when our Constitutional Rights are discarded under the guise of safety. http://cnsnews.com/news/article/oregon-man-sentenced-30-days-jail-collecting-rainwater-his-property This is the type of excessive overreach that could someday find its way to NH, via recommendations of the NH Water Sustainabilities Commission. If you haven't read their Meeting Minutes, you should: http://www.nh.gov/water-sustainability/calendar/index.htm Thomas Jefferson warned: “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” If you haven't provided your feedback to the commission, you should do so before July 31, 2012: watersustainabilitycommission@gmail.com
One Man Wolf Pack July 27, 2012 at 07:10 PM
There is no guarantee that any given parcel of land even has accessible water; no matter how deep you drill, that is part of buying land. This is an affront to the very concept of land ownership and a free society. If the town provided me with water that would be one thing, but they don't; good luck getting some kind of meter on my well, you had better bring some help.
Paul Gagnon July 28, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Have you reviewed other states water laws? Start with California, then you will see were this is going! Save the tin foil for the opressive control freaks in government.
Ken Eyring July 28, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Hi Paul, Would you mind posting a link or two to some stories you have seen? Thanks for responding.
Chuck Pierson July 29, 2012 at 04:23 PM
It's time for all of the nanny state marxists to mind their own buisness .
Ted Sizer July 31, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Ken please consider running for public office. You are such an asset to this state.
Ted Sizer July 31, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Sam, some lack the ability to debate a topic logically and intellectually. You've only proven that to the rest of us.
John A Diefenbach July 31, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Re: Letter from Mr. Ken Eyring; July 25, 2010: Mr. Eyring raises many interesting points concerning not only who water REALLY belongs to, but the use of a [so-called] Survey Monkey that apparently raises questions that, in turn, questions the integrity of such a survey. As far as the wording of several statements: “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.” These statements, unfortunately, resemble those of some societies that still exist, although one of them, one commonly referred to as the USSR, has somewhat changed it's form of government...albeit slightly. The terms: "...belongs to the people..." and "...collective..." [Oh, I love that last one] were [are?] favorites that same Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), that are now shared with Cuba, North Korea, China and a few other assorted "states'. I thank Mr. Eyring of Windham, NH, for making me, and others, aware of this and I will be following the activities of the Water Sustainability Commission closely...very closely. Respectfully, John Diefenbach Mason, NH
Ken Eyring July 31, 2012 at 04:15 PM
FYI, I sent my original letter to all NH State Reps. and most NH State Senators. I received a reply from one representative that defended the confiscation of our well water to use as a state resource. http://windham.patch.com/articles/letter-nh-rep-justifies-taking-of-water-rights-from-property-owners
Martha Spalding November 13, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Alexis de Tocqueville (who knew nothing about Regional Planners or Sustainable Communities Initiative or Regional Equity Teams) warned America that if its spirit of free self-government were ever to be killed off, massive cities desperate for a centralized welfare state would strike the final blow. The ethic of individual free enterprise is key to our civil society where everyone regardless of ethnicity, religion or social status has the same rights to pursue self-improvement. This message is suppressed by the schemes of the Regional top-down planners. The Sustainable Communities Initiative crowd is after your property rights, your private wells, and public areas (they call collective or common). Democracy is an impediment to them. If they convince enough elected representatives in Towns and Cities to surrender sovereignty, they will call the shots instead of our elected representatives. The individual person will be subsumed under the concept of the "general will". The cities they planned have failed due to their insidious schemes, so they focus on suburbs. The ultimate goals of the Regional Planners/Sustainable Communities Initiative are the deprivation of your liberty and destruction of self-government so that you will be silenced while the already wealthy and well-connected get richer picking your pocket
ObserverNH November 13, 2012 at 01:04 PM
As we speak they are changing parking spaces into flower beds in Nashua. They don't want you to drive.. they want you to live in the city with no car, where you can be controlled. This is only the beginning. (The common person who knows nothing about this should question why a city that usually lacks enough parking would remove spaces instead of adding them.. think the GDP, or "Generally Dumb Public" as I call them, will figure it out?)

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