Scientific data cut risks of public decision-making


  • Elaine Friebele


When groundwater contamination was detected at landfill monitoring wells in Loudoun County, Va., in 1993, residents nearby became concerned about the safety of their well water. To avoid health risks, the county provided public water service to homes surrounding the landfill, at a cost of $5.4 million. Had high-resolution geologic maps been available, public coffers would have stayed secure. Considering the $1.2 million cost of producing such a map, the county would have still saved millions of dollars if it had bypassed highly conductive limestone formations when siting the landfill and a later extension.