The Facts on Pond Village Water
To the editor:
Since 2019, the Provincetown Independent has repeatedly misrepresented the facts on water quality in Truro’s Pond Village. In December 2019, it quoted Emily Beebe, Truro’s health agent, stating that there were only “a couple” of homes in Pond Village with nitrates above 5 mg/L. I told Beebe and Truro’s board of health on Feb. 4, 2020 that 11 homes in Pond Village had tested above 5 mg/L. Members of Truro’s water resources oversight committee collected water samples and assembled these data over a 10-year period (2007-2016).
I reached out to the Independent to correct the record shortly thereafter and was told by the editor that “no correction is called for because nothing that we published was wrong.”
In July 2020, you continued to misrepresent the record by quoting Truro’s board of health chair when she incorrectly stated there were no Pond Village homes that sampled above 5 mg/L. I urged the Independent to review the data and engineering reports by Weston & Sampson (W&S), the town’s consultant who flagged Pond Village as an area of critical interest with respect to nitrates in 2014 and again in 2019. In its 2019 report, W&S recommended that Truro require septic systems in Pond Village that exceed the state’s standard. Reading the Independent’s coverage, one would never know these reports exist.
On Aug. 6, you quoted Beebe stating that four out of 28 homes that she reviewed in Pond Village had water with nitrates above 5 mg/L. While she reviewed only a partial data set, her revised analysis was closer to the truth. A November 2020 article inexplicably reverted to Ms. Beebe’s incorrect statement from December 2019.
The water contamination issue at the Cloverleaf is a serious and legitimate issue for Pond Village that the Independent has buried by misrepresentation and editorial bias.
The writer was a member of the Truro Water Resources Oversight Committee from 2002 to 2018 and served as one of Truro’s representatives on the Provincetown Water and Sewer Board from 2011 to 2018.
Emily Beebe replies: Mr. Kuechler references public statements about water quality analysis of private wells in the Pond Village area. On behalf of the board of health, I apologize for one misstatement that there were no wells with N levels greater than 5, because there were. Any other statements made early on in this discussion by me or board members that have been questioned have been clarified in the public record on the Cloverleaf project in our comment letters to the zoning board of appeals.
The board has moved forward with efforts to address the recommendations from the 2018 [not 2019] Weston & Sampson report. The town is currently developing a private well testing program as part of the Cape Cod Commission analysis of the Standish Pond watershed; this program will employ industry standards and all samples will be analyzed at the state-certified Barnstable County lab; we are also developing plans to mitigate stormwater impacts in the Pond Village neighborhood and exploring expansion of the municipal water supply in order to provide a source of safe, tested drinking water for those who may not be able to obtain it on their property.
To the editor:
I thought it was very strange that there were such disparities between what the New York Times was reporting for Barnstable County’s vaccination rate and what the state and county were reporting [“The CDC’s Garbage Data,” June 10, page A2]. Thank you for following up and keeping after this.
The idea that the Times and Washington Post are just spitting out bad numbers without checking them against easily available public records is just really depressing.
A neighbor of ours when I was a kid was a copy editor for the front page of the Times, back in the day when humans did that. He offered a cash reward to us kids on the block if we could catch any mistakes on “his page.” It was huge when we would catch a spelling mistake. Factual errors? Impossible.
Times have changed indeed.