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Development plans for the wetlands meadow

A guest column in the Johnson City Press in November bore this headline: “Finding clean water could be a struggle in the future.”
Charles Moore, its author, pointed out the high rate of water violations across all states, through inadequate water-laws enforcement and “punishment” for dumping contaminants.
He pointed to the “uphill battle to reverse the damage to our water supply,” since ever more storm water runoff goes into the rivers through land development. This problem he characterized as one of “too much concrete and not enough grass.”
The Town of Jonesborough faces a stark example of this problem. A proposal before it would place a convenience mart and auto service establishment within a wetland meadow whose rainwater storage, and the streams emanating from it, are the lifeblood of the Persimmon Ridge Wetland.
They feed clean headwaters supply to Little Limestone creek, barely more than a mile downstream from the meadow. This inflow is badly needed in Little Limestone, which has suffered an overburden of pollution, unresolved by the Town, for many years.
We cannot create more water. We must preserve it and to maintain its life-giving purity. We must maintain the farmland, green landscape, forests and wetland meadows we still have, on which its origination and steady supply depend.
Yet every minute, per the Tennesseean in October, two acres of farmland are paved over in urban-sprawl development, Tennessee being in the top 10 states for such loss. The land-conversion trend in one county near Nashville, erasing fully one-fifth of its prime farmland within just five years this decade, could well mirror the losses in our own region if development-as-usual dominates over land-and-water conservation need.
Growing disruption of rainfall patterns through changing climate will also continue to put more stress on creeks, lakes, and water bearing strata, even as population growth heightens demands for water.
The loss of wells and springs in the Watauga Flats community, historically low water levels in the reservoirs, Gap Creek going dry for the first time in Elizabethton, Mountain City having to ration some water uses, all in this decade, should be heard as alarum bells. The last years’ severe drought was followed this year by excessive rains, often in downpours causing flooding disruption and damage in and around our town.
Even the small part of the meadow’s wetlands that would be destroyed through the development might be that tenth-acre flood barrier loss the Town could come to regret in the future.
Not least, as well, is the matter of esthetics and preservation of the view shed to Persimmon Ridge.
Said Robert Johnson, among the conservation movement leaders around President Roosevelt, in 1910: “The first thing a man does [when able to] is to invest his money in some form of beauty. He settles in a town mainly because it is beautiful, and he is all the happier if his home can command an attractive natural view.”
The Town should consider the nearby homeowners’ investment in this, and all Jonesborough citizens in regards this development proposal.