In Portsmouth, all quiet on the septic front

To the editor:

Well it is election time and all the candidates are working hard to get our vote. Citizen committees have forwarded questions and will certainly provide us with their perspective on which candidates they feel we should vote for.

I seem to remember that one of the major issues that differentiated the candidates last election was the topic of septic system(s) on the north end of the island.  Some who opposed the systems mentioned that Portsmouth citizens must be saved from the demands of the evil DEM and that the cost of such systems would be unacceptable. As time went on and formal studies were completed, the inevitable occurred. Approximately 70 existing homes did not have the lot size to accommodate their own septic system.  Portsmouth’s citizens paid for these studies, the town dismissed the firm that performed the studies, and the council retained a lawyer to fight DEM and the laws of the state.

The existing council for the most part is responding to the will of the people is what I heard, but lately things have been pretty quiet. Had someone not correctly spoken up, the council recently seemed prepared to lessen the town involvement in managing wastewater, without soliciting public feedback. Maybe these changes are for the best. Maybe we should also assume that the combined money spent on studies and lawyers was more beneficial to our community and its residents then having the town council focused on assisting those citizens who required new systems.  Not being affiliated with any citizens committee or political party, but simply acting as a concerned citizen, I’m curious how each candidates would respond to these questions:

What do you believe will happen to Portsmouth residents’ new $20,000 to $30,000 septic systems if the town loses its disagreement with DEM?

What is the combined cost of all septic studies, establishing a wastewater district, and lawyer fees?

What specific resources are being provided to the dedicated town wastewater committee members and how will the district results truly reflect, to the citizens and state, that Portsmouth is serious about not polluting some of the cleanest waters in Narragansett Bay?

How the town is going to and why has it not stopped the pollution in the storm drains on Park Avnuee and Portsmouth Park?

Who on the council has focused and taken the lead to investigate and solicit what grants and loans can assist the elderly and low income citizens with retaining their homes?

How will the town council members feel about sewer systems when the island’s west coast developers pose their plans?

As a Portsmouth citizen, I have pondered and posed these questions over the past years. I can relate to those members of our Portsmouth community who are faced with the reality of paying out between $20,000 to $30,000 while our neighbors in Tiverton and Bristol pay a monthly fee for such services and don’t have to put up with costly inspections and maintenance. While not intending to offend anyone, I believe the candidates should be able to provide our community with their answers before we vote.

Andrew Vanier

Portsmouth

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