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Ten Mile Creek

Testimony to Planning Board, Sept. 13, 2013

Action Committee for Transit is a 27-year old volunteer advocacy organization, with 500 members who seek better communities connected by better transit. In that regard, we care about the Ten Mile Creek area because of its environmental sensitivity for the county, and because the development under discussion won’t be transitoriented. It seems wrong to continue to press ahead for this “non-transit-oriented” development, while the “T” is still missing in Clarkburg’s TOD. Unless explicit staging requirements tied to viable transit and the building of the Town Center are put into effect in the Clarksburg area, the planning board should not approve further development — it simply undermines the vision of the master plan.

Please ensure that the Clarksburg master plan amendment fully protects Ten Mile Creek, which the current Planning Department proposal does not do. Stronger protection makes both economic and environmental sense.

Reasons for protection. Ten Mile Creek drains into Little Seneca Reservoir — part of our region’s backup drinking supply. But in addition, the adjacent land acts as a recharge area for the Piedmont Sole-Source Aquifer that serves Montgomery County’s rural communities. Thus, Ten Mile Creek is an integral part of the drinking water supply for three million people in the Greater Washington region.

Caution about development. We understand that development plans now being considered by the Planning Board could add more than 100 acres of hard impervious surfaces to this fragile watershed – or would substitute pervious pavement inadequate to the task. Runoff from hard impervious surfaces regularly contaminates streams. Regarding the pervious pavement alternative, the federal Environmental Protection Agency suggests that until more scientific data are available, it is not advisable to construct porous pavement near groundwater drinking supplies or in areas of sole-source aquifers. Please also note that EPA estimates the high failure rate of porous pavement at 75%: this failure rate leads to concern for water quantity as well as quality.

Recommendation: The Planning Board has already approved a lot of development on Cabin Branch, which is also a tributary of Little Seneca Reservoir and recharge area for the Piedmont Sole Source Aquifer. We believe the environmentally-responsible thing for the Board to do is to wait and see how the Cabin Branch development affects the reservoir and the aquifer, before approving further development on Ten Mile Creek.