I quite enjoyed reading Brian Hirst’s letter (“Moratorium on subdivision development needed,” August). Harpswell, not unlike other local municipalities, must shrewdly balance the receipt/enhancement of revenues, required to maintain its operational responsibilities, with those means needed to safeguard the health and safety of its residents.
The ability to adequately provide for this balance is always under assault by changes in local, state and national priorities, revision of tax legislation, tourism, etc. However, during the last two decades, the power to control this balance has been challenged by the onset of climate change/global warming. Given the wide range of weather disruptions witnessed this summer, it is no longer an academic oddity, but a force both to be understood and to be prepared for. Given this certainty of future vacillations in weather patterns, it is incumbent upon town officials to adopt policies which will mitigate against the possibility of widespread water shortages and structural damage in our area.
For coastal areas, like Harpswell, the two major weather conditions to be impacted by climate change/global warming will be the prevalence of more severe storms (due to enhanced ocean temperatures) and increased periods of drought (alterations in wind, moisture, and heat-cold patterns). Therefore, the town must promulgate new standards for home/business construction and limit the number and size of wells. As Mr. Hirst correctly opined, “While conserving (water) is very important, what Harpswell needs right now is a moratorium on subdivision development and any additional wells.”
The town must decide between increasing revenue or ensuring that current residents have an adequate supply of safe drinking water. At some point in time, the town cannot allow more home/business construction, if said development interferes with the provision of suitable quantities of potable water for its residents. Praying for rain will never be the answer.
John M. Mishler