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‘Fracking’ hits home (and business)

Glade Run rises from springs along the ridge a mile away and then flows through our valley. From my winery window, I see its black-soil banks wiggling across the spring green. In most places, I could jump across; were cows not around, I wouldn’t hesitate to drink.

Yet Glade Run will inundate our valley several times yearly — a churning brown mass, a football field wide. Then, one realizes the value of “upland glades.” They’re catch-basins for excess mountain precipitation, collected for the thirsty cities downstream.

Two miles down, Glade Run joins Buffalo Run, which three miles later joins the Youghiogheny, then the Monongahela, the Ohio — on to New Orleans. Garrett County has rarified status, collecting water for two great continental watersheds. In our southern end starts the Potomac.  (I’ve jumped across that, too.)

Some, including many around me, would pave over Glade Run’s meanderings with industrial hard-pack, then mix its water with chemicals to “frack” shale that holds natural gas.

Like lots of others in Maryland, I think that’s a bad idea. Our business requires a reliable source of pure water, and like most people here, we also drink from a well. Even if money is your favorite yardstick, won’t good water be more valuable than methane?

So, recently I joined about 85 volunteers in a unique collaboration with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Mindful of the need to document our good water now, before drillers might be allowed to operate in Maryland, we are teaming up for “baseline testing” on about 250 streams in Garrett.

Once a week, I’ll lace up my hiking boots to reach sampling spots on four less-accessible streams of “Subwatershed #0023” near our home/business.

This way, when things go “bad,” as sometimes occurs with such  drilling, property-owners can more easily seek redress — thanks in part also to a law passed earlier this month in the General Assembly that, within 2,500 feet of a new gas well, presumes drillers are liable.

But why sample streams? We should all remember that good water is all connected: Glade Run rises from underground aquifers.

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