WCD will in­crease prop­erty val­ues, not hurt them

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Charles County has an on­go­ing fresh wa­ter ac­cess cri­sis due to over de­vel­op­ment within the county, re­sult­ing in more res­i­dents us­ing more wa­ter. New housing de­vel­op­ments are far worse cul­prits than older ones since all of that sod be­ing laid for new yards needs wa­ter­ing to get it grow­ing and keep it in­tact.

Many older neigh­bor­hoods in Charles County, whose res­i­dents have lived through the wa­ter re­stric­tion droughts within the last cou­ple of decades, now have their HOAs deal­ing with just hav­ing their res­i­dents keep their grass mowed to ac­cept­able lev­els, and let­ting lawns that go dor­mant (due to sum­mer heat) re­main that way in­stead of de­mand­ing res­i­dents throw pre­cious, costly fresh ground wa­ter on grass to keep it green.

Ac­cord­ing to USGS, Charles County well num­ber CH Dd 33 — which has a depth of 694 feet and ac­cesses Up­per Pat­ap­sco aquifer of the Pat­ap­sco For­ma­tion of Lower Cre­ta­ceous age — had a be­low sur­face ac­cess to wa­ter of 88 feet in 1962, and had dropped to 148 feet in 2012. That’s a 60-foot drop in 50 years to fresh ground­wa­ter ac­cess of a very huge re­gional un­der­ground aquifer.

That drop is due to in­creased housing de­vel­op­ment through­out Charles County. The Zekiah Swamp Run, near New­town, is now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its low­est flow in his­tory due to ground­wa­ter di­ver­sions from mu­nic­i­pal well fields at Wal­dorf and oc­ca­sional farm ir­ri­ga­tion up­stream dur­ing sum­mer months. Over­all, within the last decade, there has been a far greater min­i­mum dis­charge from that swamp than max­i­mum. Which trans­lates into a lower over­all freshwater ta­ble through­out Charles County, if Zekiah Swamp is used as an ad­di­tional lit­mus test re­gard­ing the rate freshwater ac­cess is be­ing lost due to in­creased housing.

The more homes built in Charles County, the faster the fresh ground­wa­ter de­ple­tion rate in­creases — re­duc­ing home and land val­ues. If housing growth in any county sec­tor keeps in­creas­ing at its cur­rent rate, res­i­dents will ei­ther have to pay for de­sali­na­tion plants or tap into Blue Plains wa­ter sewage treat­ment com­ing out of Wash­ing­ton, D.C., which runs through Prince Ge­orge’s County. Both will in­crease the cost of wa­ter to both res­i­dents and busi­nesses.

Wis­dom re­sides within en­act­ing the wa­ter­shed con­ser­va­tion district when it comes to pro­tect­ing prop­erty val­ues. Land that has eas­ier and greater ac­cess to fresh ground wa­ter will main­tain its value far bet­ter than land that has to ac­cess a more chem­i­cally-san­i­tized wa­ter prod­uct that orig­i­nates from pol­luted en­vi­ron­ments like the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay or Po­tomac River.

I have to ques­tion our state and county of­fi­cials abil­i­ties if they do in­deed think ac­cess to fresh ground wa­ter has noth­ing to do with main­tain­ing or in­creas­ing prop­erty val­ues. The WCD is not go­ing to de­crease prop­erty val­ues; at a very min­i­mum, it’s go­ing to main­tain them — if not in­crease them.

Folks are mov­ing out of cities to get away from liv­ing on top of each other, or liv­ing in a com­mut­ing night­mare mess like ex­ists in Vir­ginia. Great shades of Loudoun County, has any­one from Charles County even taken a look at that on­go­ing overde­vel­oped mess? Do we re­ally need that here in Charles County, where com­mut­ing times al­ready ri­val much of Vir­ginia, but without all of the ugly con­crete and as­phalt?

The more trees we main­tain in­tact, the cleaner our air is and the health­ier we are. The less im­per­vi­ous sur­faces we lay via houses, drive­ways and ac­cess roads, the more rain and melt­ing snow is ab­sorbed to main­tain our aquifers. That wa­ter keeps our nat­u­ral trib­u­taries in­tact so we can en­joy hav­ing a wildlife-friendly county where our chil­dren can en­joy see­ing ea­gles, ospreys, herons, deer, ter­rap­ins and tor­toises in a nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Ac­cess to na­ture in­creases prop­erty val­ues, or else bil­lion­aires wouldn’t be own­ing ranches or build­ing re­mote scenic moun­tain lodges as va­ca­tion homes. Fewer homes be­ing built in a WCD will be worth far more than mul­ti­ple homes in­creas­ing sub­ur­bia. Mary R. Adler, Wal­dorf

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