Charlotte well woes

By SCOOTER MACMILLAN

Just before Christmas, Ronda Moore’s well went dry. And she wasn’t alone. Hers was one of nine wells on Greenbush Road in Charlotte to run dry last December.

And while Moore said she was attending Planning Commission meetings long before she lost the water supply to her home, she and her neighbor Mark Moser were at the Jan. 3 meeting, asking the commission to consider the issue before approving more development.

Moore said she also wants the Select Board and the Planning Commission to weigh establishing a water district in the West Village of Charlotte, or to find a well that would produce enough water for the whole neighborhood.

Moore said one of the wells that failed on Greenbush Road south of Ferry Road was producing 100 gallons a minute but is now providing less than 20 gallons a minute.

“This is a real issue,” Moore said. “We can’t keep kicking the can down the road about how we are going to responsibly develop the West Village.”

Acting Chair of the Planning Commission Peter Joslin said that he didn’t think he knew enough at this time to advocate for a moratorium on development. There are wells with water and wells without water that are close to each other, he said.

“There’s not been any development in the West Village, so what precipitated it is the question,” he said.

Joslin said that it could be climate, usage, or some hydrogeological issue.

Ben Mason, whose home is on Greenbush Road north of Ferry Road, said that he has not lost water.

“On that side of the road, we seem to have plenty of water,” he said.

Mason added that long before it became his home, the property was once one of the largest farms in Vermont. In the 1800s, water from the well was pumped down the mountain to a creamery that was at the railroad about a half a mile from the farm.

Dave Marshall of Charlotte, a principal engineer with Civil Engineering Associates Inc., said that there are at least 19 different wells in the West Village and the capacity ranges from 0 to 150 gallons a minute. He said it appears there is plenty of water in the aquifer but that some of the fractures may be running out.

Marshall said he believes that, in many instances, if a property owner moved maybe 50 feet, drilled deeper or did hydrofracking, they might increase water flow. Hydrofracking is forcing pressurized water into a well to increase fractures in the rock in hopes of increasing the flow. It was originally developed to increase oil or gas well flow but has been adapted to help find extra water, according to the American Groundwater Trust.

Or, Mason said, a landowner could hire a dowser.

“Don’t laugh,” he said. “We have used a dowser and found more water than was needed. There’s more to finding water than what an engineer can tell you.”

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