letter to the editor

Commercial development in the watershed

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 4:00pm

Dear Editor:

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has been permitted to build 918 parking spaces adjacent to the Knickerbocker Watershed.This is the largest development of its kind not only in Boothbay, but in the peninsula’s history. Currently, they are installing 849 spaces, more than the Brunswick Walmart. (For a local comparison, all the parking spaces at the Boothbay Hannaford, the small mall, the YMCA, and the schools only add up only to 561). Nearly half, 408 spaces, are directly in the watershed of Knickerbocker Lake, the Boothbay region’s water supply.

Because the CMBG has planned to use porous pavement and grass parking lots, runoff that doesn’t go directly into Knickerbocker Lake will go into the aquifer that sits on the hill above the lake thereby creating indirect and possibly further contamination into local wells and the town's drinking water supply.

The Department of Environmental Protection has permitted CMBG to export a maximum of 1.87 pounds of phosphorus from their parking lots into Knickerbocker Lake, and that’s almost exactly what the Gardens says it will contaminate the lake with.

And now, because of the Boothbay Region Water District’s recent testing, we know that Little Knickerbocker is much more sensitive to phosphorus input than the DEP initially realized. Which should be a concern to all residents, because the DEP has issued yet another notice of violations against CMBG for construction problems which have sent clouds of phosphorus-laden sediment toward the lake.

CMBG has countered that they have the same right to pollute the lake as everyone else.

Does one business have the right to deforest acres and pollute in our towns' watershed? As the DEP claims, if they are over-polluting, who will clean it up? What happens if Knickerbocker becomes undrinkable? Who will pay the bill? What will happen to property values if our water becomes undrinkable?

Please voice your opinion at the Board of Appeals meeting on July 27 (at 6 p.m.) to say you don’t want the Gardens to have any of its parking lots in the Knickerbocker watershed.

Lolin Hilgartner

Leesburg, Virginia