letter to the editor

The problem with CMBG’s water test

Posted:  Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 11:00am

Dear Editor:

CMBG has been advertising the results of a recent water test. The problem is that this test is pretty much meaningless in terms of water quality in Knickerbocker Lake.

CMBG has been claiming that because they found little phosphorus in these samples taken from parking lot run-off just after construction was completed, there is no evidence that their massive Walmart-sized parking lot will negatively affect our drinking water in Knickerbocker Lake.

Really? Here are some reasons CMBG’s claim is irrational:

  • CMBG’s test hasn’t been independently verified.
  • CMBG’s test is a “honeymoon” phosphorus sample which has zero bearing on how the run-off filtration system will function over years and years of use. In fact, we know that these systems degrade significantly over time.
  • CMBG isn’t testing for petroleum hydrocarbons leaching out of the pavement, as they will for decades.
  • CMBG isn’t testing for the oil, antifreeze, and other chemicals left behind by the hundreds of thousands of vehicles using the parking lots every year.

CMBG is still trying to justify its bizarre claim that their parking lots are better for water quality than a forest. CMBG’s founders would never have made such a claim. They knew that nature was more important than a botanical garden and its infrastructure, which is why for over 20 years CMBG’s nonprofit mission statement said their highest priority was “to preserve and protect” nature. But current management has replaced 23 acres of wetland habitat with parking lots and replaced that mission statement with one (“to inspire”) which reflects their Disneyland ambitions.

If allowed to remain in the KL watershed, CMBG’s parking lots will be spewing phosphorus and industrial chemicals for decades. Their little test doesn’t tell us anything about that, nor does CMBG want to talk about that. They simply want the community to believe that a single test should be used as evidence (after the Board of Appeals closed its hearing to new evidence) to overturn the board’s decision.

Worse, in their letter to the board urging it to reconsider its decision, CMBG accused the Boothbay community of “hysteria” in its concern for the long-term health of the region’s drinking water, and that is simply irresponsible.

Jason Anthony