Letters to the Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR | Special measures needed

To the editor:

It’s unfortunate that discussions about water and other life sustaining resources of our fragile ecosystem have been reduced to the name-calling and inaccuracies in Ms. Hunter’s letter (Record, May 19, online) and the comments which follow. Hopefully, most of us who live among the beauty and abundance of Whidbey understand that island living requires special commitments and measures to being proactive stewards of our environment.

As a scientist and a citizen of Island County, I am troubled by the unsubstantiated claim that, “Using faulty science and erroneous data collection, Island County government deliberately misled the citizenry and used the data to establish the mandatory Septic Inspection Program and Clean Water Utility District.” There is not one iota of evidence in the letter to support such a serious charge.

The statement confuses two separate initiatives. The first, the Septic Inspection Program, was enacted by our Republican dominated county commission in 2007 in response to a state mandate. The second, the Clean Water Utility, was inaugurated in 2010 to fund a comprehensive, integrated and essential system of water quality tests, including a hydrogeologist position; several of these measures were discontinued through previous budget cuts, leaving us no means by which to objectively evaluate, plan or manage our water supply.

I, along with a standing room only crowd, attended the December 2010 public hearings on the Clean Water Utility. I urge all islanders to read the 14  page document (available on the county commissioners’ website) that clearly outlines the scope, purposes, programs and budget of the Clean Water Utility.

Ms. Hunter’s letter also mentions a presentation (March 19, 2012) delivered by Environmental Health Director Jill Wood regarding the “Holmes Harbor Shellfish Protection District Update.” When she writes that it “… revealed septic systems are not the root cause of surface water pollution or Holmes Harbor water quality issues,” she misses a crucial point. What the presentation suggests is that multiple partnerships and programs, coupled with systematic monitoring and compliance, are part of a targeted approach that resulted not in “miraculous” changes in water quality but in changes stemming from policy based on the best available science.

Mary K. “MK” Sandford, Ph.D.


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