CHESTERVILLE — A public hearing will be held Thursday on a proposed ordinance to give the town local control to protect the water quality within its boundaries.

The hearing is scheduled at 7 p.m. at the Town Office.

The hearing will allow residents to ask questions about the proposal before it goes to voters in a referendum vote on Nov. 5.

The proposed water protection ordinance was developed by a Water Resources Protection Committee with the support of residents, the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board.

The town has a string of lakes, ponds, streams and an aquifer that need protection, committee Chairman Fran Fuller said Tuesday.

The ordinance follows state law but is more stringent in a couple of areas, Selectman Guy Iverson said. He has been working with the committee on the proposal.

It is not intended to prohibit activity, including commercial water or mineral extraction, committee member Bill Dunham said.

It sets guidelines on how it will be done in the town, he said.

The ordinance is proposed to protect the water within the town for generations to come, Fuller said.

“Quality water will become more scarce” in the future, he said.

The ordinance also balances the freedom of residents and property owners on what they can do on their land, Iverson said.

“Our goal is to pass this ordinance, which adheres to state law to give our citizens protection of our water resources,” Dunham said.

The proposal would prohibit the excavation of mineral extraction to occur within 5 feet of the seasonal high water table. The state’s guidelines allow for a 2-foot variance, Iverson said.

In the committee’s opinion, he said, that is 3 feet too much.

The local proposal states that no ditches, trenches, pumping or other methods shall be used to lower the water table to permit more gravel or other mineral extraction than would occur under natural conditions. Digging below the water table would be prohibited. Farm and frog ponds would be exempted.

The ordinance draft is also stricter than the state’s in that it would prohibit new mineral extraction pits to be allowed in the shoreline area adjacent to great ponds. No part of any excavation operation, including drainage and runoff control features, will be permitted within 250 feet horizontal distance of the normal high water line of a great pond and within 75 feet horizontal distance of a normal high water line of any other water body, tributary or upland edge of a wetland.

The ordinance would also require Chesterville residents to vote on any proposal by a corporation, business or person to engage in groundwater withdrawals for commercial sale connected to water extraction.

A simple majority vote would be needed to allow water to be extracted. If voters approve it, then the permitting process would continue to be handled at the state level.

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