Environmental assessment worth doing

It is encouraging to hear that the Kenai Peninsula Borough will be taking a closer look at the groundwater in the Nikiski area, especially considering recent public outcry and concern on the subject.

The Alaska State Legislature found $150,000 for the borough’s desires to do some water well testing and data coordination in the area. We hope Gov. Sean Parnell keeps the money — a reappropriation from a previous project — intact in the final capital budget. It is not a lot of money to the state, but the money could mean a lot to the area.

Certainly, the funding won’t solve every problem that’s found, or that exists, or even test every well. But, it’s a start.

And, you have to start somewhere.

We hope that some of the money can be used in partnership with the Arness family who are working to drill a groundwater well on their piece of property that was contaminated back in the 1980s. That site seems to be the area of highest concern considering its history and proximity to residential portions of the town.

Getting a better picture of the groundwater behavior and contamination level in the area will only help in the long run to determine whether or not a larger plan is needed.

If we discover there isn’t a need for more testing, that the plume of contamination isn’t present in dangerous levels, that’s great — we won’t break the bank, and then those drinking the water can rest easier.

If we discover there is a need for more investigation, funding and effort to examine possible water contamination, then we will at least have a start and justification for future funding and investigation.

Right now we really can’t say anything about the contamination in that area because it’s mostly undefined.

Moreover, the money is an example of how good government should work. That is residents bringing forward their concerns to those we elect and then those lawmakers come back with an idea and hopefully some money to help.

We would also encourage the borough, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and private property owners to work closely together on the project. Local knowledge will be critical in helping maximize the funding allocated.

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