Cranberry grower spins ‘corporate fiction’ over pesticides in wells

Apr 07, 2018

To the Editor:

In its reply to the editor about the cranberry pesticides in our drinking wells, AD Makepeace asserts that it is “irresponsible” to disclose that its Maple Springs cranberry bogs have been scientifically identified as the primary source of the pesticides in the Wareham Water District drinking wells.

Makepeace’s intellectually dishonest effort to ignore science and re-write history is what’s irresponsible.

Makepeace was actively and directly involved in the 2016 Kleinfelder Pesticide Tracer study which was designed to scientifically “determine the estimated travel time, potential mass load, and concentration of pesticide expected to enter the water supply from the cranberry bogs upstream …”. The cranberry bogs upstream are repeatedly identified in the study as the Maple Springs bogs owned and operated by Makepeace. Indeed, the study includes schedules documenting the types, volumes, and dates of pesticide applications to these cranberry bogs, all of which data was provided by Makepeace as part of the scientific inquiry.

The final report, at Page 52, concludes as follows: “the historic Wellhead Protection Program sampling and the current study both indicate that the primary source of pesticides in the Maple Springs wells is downgradient groundwater migration from the cranberry bogs.”

These findings speak for themselves and have been well known to Makepeace for over a year. And its angst about others learning of the findings hardly makes the disclosure irresponsible.

Makepeace’s reply then undertakes the usual public relations … “here are the facts” …campaign. But instead of facts, the grower provides little more than a sugarcoated cranberry sauce of corporate fiction, ‘spin’ and nutrient rich hypocrisy.

Contrary to Makepeace’s claims that “In all cases, the detections of these compounds were more than 10 times below the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) informal guidelines for these compounds” … the testing data confirms that a permitted guidance level was documented to have been exceeded. This too is well known to Makepeace. And, because the tests taken to date have been grab samples, as Makepeace also knows, it is uncertain if all the pesticide levels recorded to date are actual highs or actual lows.

Crucially, Makepeace neglected to explain that the informal guidance standards, with which it falsely claims to have always complied, were constructed without using the pesticide toxicity data utilized by the 30 countries around the world that have banned certain of the chemicals found in our wells. Leaving this available toxicity and risk data out of the formation of the informal guidance standard is like calculating a student’s GPA based solely on grades in gym, recess, and lunch - while ignoring the student’s scores in English, reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history, attendance, and citizenship.

The grower/developer then boasts of its offer to sell water to the district as a money saver for citizens. How so? If the cranberry bogs had not polluted the wells in the first place, there would be no need to save the money needed to test for and remove the cranberry pesticides infecting the wells. (And according to the Freedom of Information responses from the District, Makepeace’s offer to profit from selling water was in connection only with its pesticide problem, not the district’s separate manganese and iron issues, as the Makepeace response implied.)

Makepeace was predictably dead silent about its threats of legal action against the water district and its role in changing the wording of the District’s notice to ratepayers about its pesticide contamination problem. But its hypocrisy is deafening.

Consider this. According to public disclosures, the same Makepeace senior executive who threatened legal action against the Wareham Water District also happens to be an elected official in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Like Wareham, Shrewsbury has trouble with naturally forming manganese and iron. And in addition, very low levels of a potentially harmful chemical were also found in its drinking wells.

In response to the chemical found in its wells, and despite the identified chemical not even being regulated in Massachusetts, this Makepeace ‘leader’ has been a strong and consistent voice for protecting the drinking water quality for his family - and his constituents - and for zealously attempting to identify and hold the polluter(s) accountable.

In fact, Shrewsbury is even considering the construction of the second largest organic treatment plant in all North America, a dedicated portion of which will be to address this single chemical.

Moreover, it has been reported that the construction of this innovative treatment plant was delayed while, among other things, Shrewsbury finds the underlying cause of who is responsible for the chemical and how they might get the responsible person(s) to pay for the treatment costs. Perfectly logical.

Conversely, all the Makepeace leadership has done here in Wareham, so far, is to threaten to sue the District over the wording of a flyer about this topic, essentially ignore the District’s requests to chip in financially to fix the pesticide problem it helped cause, and to characterize the public disclosure of the problem as irresponsible.

Is it also irresponsible for the Makepeace senior official, who threatened to sue the district, to help lead Shrewsbury residents toward clean drinking water?

Is this hypocrisy satisfactory to all Makepeace employees who live in Wareham and to your readers?

“Our 160-year history in the cranberry industry affects the way we do business,” says Makepeace. Time to do business a whole lot differently don’t you think?

Just as it’s time for ratepayers to call upon our water district officials to insist upon accountability from polluters of our water supply, regardless of the levels of pollution, just as in the hometown of the assigned Makepeace senior executive trying to will the Wareham problem away.

Ratepayers can begin by attending the April 9, 2018, Annual Meeting of the Wareham Fire District, which will be held at 7 p.m. in the High School auditorium.

Barry Cosgrove

Comments (9)
Posted by: OnsetTogether | Apr 07, 2018 20:19

How much was the non-compliance penalty in June 2017?!/enforcements/2904936

Posted by: Linda | Apr 08, 2018 12:29

What chemical is in Shrewsbury's water and how does that effect Wareham?  It doesn't.

Makepeace wasn't the original owner of the bogs in question.  Are we to reach in the grave of this person, to help pay?

Funny, the District raised our water rates (almost doubled for some).  People were not happy, so to take that out of the spotlight we are now bringing Makepeace up again and confusing the hell out of a lot of people.  The rate raise and needing $ from Makepeace for clean up.

PEOPLE - the reason they raised our water usage rate was because they looked at state wide rates and they thought we were too low - so they went up.  NEVER once thinking about the average income in Wareham.  The rates & incomes don't come close.    They wanted a new station, not yet but just wait.  Why do they need so many beautiful red SUV's & trucks?  A few years back, or more, the new clerk needed help so the old clerk stayed on the payroll to "help".  So, add the cost of the vehicles, the office charges, etc. and we've saved some bucks.

Have I confused you yet?  That's what these letters to the Editor are doing to me.  Whatever happened to sitting down and talking things out?  SMH

By the way, I drank water from a private well that is downstream from the "polluted" area for 12 yrs. and from there to district water all my life.

Posted by: Kress | Apr 09, 2018 13:59

Linda:  Affect is the verb and effect is the noun.   As in:  Makepeace's cranberry bogs' drain off affected the results of the study.  Still confused?






Posted by: Kress | Apr 09, 2018 14:55

Linda:  the answer to your question re: liability from the grave can be found in the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  Anyone in an industry that has an effect on the environment must be conversant with this federal law.  Liability can be spread to current owners and previous owners. Caveat emptor, (ie., buyer beware) and joint and several liability, (ie., you're on the hook) apply here.  I would suggest that you consult with your company's attorney before posting responses that require a knowledge of the law.


Posted by: Hissing Cobra | Apr 09, 2018 16:47

These pesticides that have been found in our water contain many active ingredient that are labeled for use in the bogs and many of them can only be sold to "Certified Applicators" with the proper licensing. I know that none of us "small time" taxpaying homeowners contaminated this water supply so why are we on the hook to clean it?

Posted by: Linda | Apr 10, 2018 13:49

Kress - your sarcastic comment on a misspelled word is noted.    I posted a question, as you noted with your 2nd response.  Thank you.  I don't know who you think I am, but your suggestion that I consult my "company's attorney"  - before posting responses that require a knowledge of the law - is laughable.  Perhaps you should figure out who I am before posting responses like that.  I am a person who loves her town and I have the right to ask questions on this site, as do you.  I DON'T have a company or an attorney.  I get a S.S, check every month, that's it!  Enjoy your day, I will.

Posted by: Linda | Apr 10, 2018 13:57

HC - I understand how you feel.  As a little girl I remember my dad going to farm stores and buying DDT for our huge garden that we lived off.  I know there were other poisons that he sprayed on our vast fruit trees and grape vines.  I think that was the norm, back in the day - protect your food or starve during the winter.


Posted by: Kress | Apr 10, 2018 19:11

Linda:  Apparently I confused you with Linda Burke of AD Makepeace.  I apologize.   I would appreciate "figuring out" who you are, but that's not possible with screen names. However, my comments stand.


You asked, "Are we to reach. . .grave".  If "we" does not refer to AD Makepeace and you, then I apologize again for the confusion.  Since I have no affiliation with Makepeace (other than eating cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving), then I would use "they" instead of "we" when referring to Makepeace.


Actually, your mention of prior contamination on Makepeace's property seems like a red herring and an attempt to shift the focus away from the current problem of drain-off from their cranberry bogs.  There are various contaminants in Wareham's wells.  These contaminants are not naturally occurring.  They are pesticides and nitrogen rich fertilizers used on and flushed from the cranberry bogs that find their way into Wareham's wells.


re:  Makepeace senior executive:  NIMBY.  Not in my back yard.  It's okay to pollute Wareham's drinking water, but do not mess with his drinking water in Shrewsbury.  The comparison of Wareham to Shrewsbury has less to do with the water problem and more to do with the person, him/herself as a respresentative of AD Makepeace.  His actions reveal his concern for his home-town water supply.  But, when it comes to Wareham's water, he has little interest in determining, realizing and according responsibility to Makepeace for contamination of Wareham's wells.  Not a very good steward of our land.


Finally, how clever of Makepeace to offer (for payment) water from their wells.  First, they would make more money.  Second, if Wareham residents were to receive clean drinking water from Makepeace wells, then the problem of pesticides in Wareham's drinking water disappears.  As a result, Makepeace would be free to continue their use of pesticides and fertilizers without interference from townsfolk.

Posted by: Linda | Apr 11, 2018 10:51

Kress - I wish I had the education & money that Linda Burke must have.  My, "Are we..........." meant, we the taxpayers, the state, the EPA or "whoever".


I believe my comment was that Makepeace wasn't the original owner of the bogs everyone finds responsible for contamination.  I know that because we always went for rides in the woods, saw nature at its best and maybe an occasional car.  We did this because Rte.'s 6 & 28 were bumper to bumper traffic to and from the Cape.  We knew who owned what bogs, where the fox had her babies, where the deer runs were, who belonged to what prints in the dirt, etc., not what bog was eventually to be named a polluter by whoever.


Also, I just wondered what pollutant was in Shrewsbury's water, that's all!


Buying water from Makepeace is a temporary fix but it would let WWD work in stages on the cleaning of the water tanks.


So Kress, were you an English teacher or professor or are you just well educated?  Were you born and raised in Wareham, as I was?  I congratulate you on your education but I guess nobody told you that it is rude to correct someone else's mistakes.  Have a nice day.


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