Letter: Gravel pit decision in Cumberland has consequences for Falmouth

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I am writing in hope of making people in Cumberland and Falmouth aware of the potential for having a gravel pit developed in their backyard.  If you have been following the story involving Cumberland land along the Falmouth line, you know the controversy over a proposed gravel pit and commercial water extraction operation.  It looks like the Cumberland Town Council will remove the ability for anyone to start a commercial water extraction operation, but continue to allow permits for gravel pits with contract zone approval in 80 percent of Cumberland.  A call to the Falmouth town office revealed the potential for gravel extraction in at least three town zones.

A gravel pit is not just a hole in the ground, but includes the use of equipment to excavate, grind, sort, and transport the mined material.  All this equipment creates large amounts of noise and dust. But the biggest concern to everyone should be the potential to disturb and contaminate the ground-water aquifers. As presented by John Sevee, a ground-water expert who spoke to councilors in Cumberland, sand and gravel deposits typically coexist with the aquifers. Removal of the sand and gravel over an aquifer, which functions as the aquifer’s filter, increases the chance of contamination. Once an aquifer is contaminated it can be generations before it is again suitable to supply the precious commodity it contains. Just ask residents in Gray about the consequences of a contaminated aquifer.

Stephen Hamilton