Conditions have remained pretty much the same the last couple of
days, although the intrusion of dense higher-oxygen water from the
ocean is beginning to create a thicker layer at the bottom of Hood
Canal. The middle layer of low-oxygen water remains fairly thick,
but the upper layer with higher oxygen concentrations is still
providing fish some relief. South winds remain a threat, as I’ve
explained for the last few weeks.
One can observe the three layers in the upper graph. The lower
graph shows changes over the past week or so. Notice how oxygen
concentrations are rising in the deep layer. Continue reading →
The EPA is “seeking public input on how the agency can better
protect and improve the health of our waters…” according to a
news release. “The feedback received on the online forum will
help shape the discussion at EPA’s upcoming conference in April,
‘Coming Together for Clean Water,’ where we will engage
approximately 100 executive and local level water leads on the
agency’s clean water agenda.”
Three topics are mentioned: “The Watershed Approach,” “Managing
Pollutants from Nutrients,” and “Stormwater Pollution.”
It is interesting to see how people in various parts of the
country are responding to these topics and how local issues play
into the national overview. Some folks seem fairly alarmed and are
demanding that the EPA take firm actions. Others have responded by
spelling out technical solutions or offering case studies about how
the EPA has failed in the past.
Water-quality inspectors for the Kitsap County Health District
have gained a statewide reputation for the methodical way they
track down bacterial pollution in Kitsap County.
Monthly testing of nearly 60 local streams gives them an early
warning about pollution problems as they begin to develop.
Working with property owners who care about the environment and
voluntarily open their homes for dye testing is a major part of the
success. These friendly water-quality detectives avoid using the
heavy hand of government unless there is an obvious problem that a
property owner refuses to correct.
Yesterday, the health district released its annual
Water Quality Monitoring Report, which includes a description
of every watershed and major stream in the county. The report also
compiles the data to show us which streams are the cleanest and
As you can see from a story I wrote for
today’s Kitsap Sun, these health inspectors have encountered a
water-quality situation in the Lofall area of North Kitsap that has
puzzled them for more than a year. It will take their ingenuity and
persistence to figure it out.
I spent a little time yesterday with Newton Morgan of the health
district to try to gain an understanding of the problem. He showed
me where Lofall Creek comes down through a pipe and spills into
Hood Canal adjacent to the old ferry dock.
This is where more bacteria are concentrated than in any natural
waterway in the county. It is somewhat of an anomaly, because Hood
Canal streams are generally far cleaner than those draining to the
east side of the Kitsap Peninsula.
It doesn’t take long for me to understand why Lofall remains a
pollution mystery. The pipe that drains to Hood Canal is at least
100 feet long and is buried under people’s yards where the steep
hillside is somewhat terraced.
Farther uphill, a drainage system takes stormwater off paved
streets and dumps it into a series of catch basins that drain to
other buried pipes.
Standing on one street, Newton points downhill while explaining
that one pipe apparently goes directly under someone’s house before
tying into another pipe that cannot be seen.
Leslie Banigan, another water quality expert with the health
district, describes the maze of underground pipes as buried
Complicating the situation even more are the high groundwater
levels in some areas of Lofall.
When a septic system fails — which generally means the bacteria
are not being trapped in the soil — the polluted water can find its
way into this underground drainage system rather than rising to the
surface where the odor of sewage reveals the problem.
Health inspectors have located some failing septic systems and
even a couple of direct discharges of sewage to the beach. But they
are still looking for one or more septic systems that must be
getting worse, because the stream is getting dirtier, despite the
Because of their experience over the past 15 years, these
inspectors exhibit a confidence about their ability to find the
sources of pollution. They know they must remain persistent and
continue to work on the problem. If dye testing doesn’t work, they
have other ideas up their sleeves.
After watching this program all these years, I can’t help but
wonder why every stream in the state isn’t being monitored monthly
to establish cleanup priorities. And, while health officials are
focused on bacterial pollution, similar testing could be extended
to other pollutants that can harm salmon and other sealife.
Cost? Yes, there’s a cost. Residents of unincorporated Kitsap
County pay about $67 a year on their property tax statements for
the Kitsap County Surface and Stormwater Management Program, which
is managed by Kitsap Public Works. That fee covers not only
water-quality testing but also maintenance of public storm drains,
upgrade of regional stormwater infrastructure, regulatory oversight
of stormwater permits, education of livestock owners and commercial
business operators, and more.
On the wall of her home, Diane Fox of Bremerton displays this
photo of the Bremerton waterfront in 1942, following the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor the previous Dec. 7. Family friend George
Wraith took the shot, which shows searchlights from the Navy
shipyard scanning Bremerton’s skies for signs of enemy
In memory of Pearl Harbor, Kitsap Sun reporters Ed Friedrich and
Derek Sheppard, intern Tara Garcia-Mathewson and other staffers
produced an impressive package of stories,
pictures and videos — including interviews with 12 local
survivors of the attack and an interactive map showing where their
ships were located.
The review will look at the stolen e-mails for evidence of data
manipulation or suppression, review CRU’s overall data-handling
policies, and investigate compliance with disclosure laws. Review
is designed to determine whether activities were at odds with
acceptable scientific practices.
The university has asked that the review be completed by spring,
UPDATE, DEC. 1
Phil Jones has stepped aside as director of the Climatic
Research Unit pending completion of an independent review of
allegations involving e-mail hacked from the server of the
University of East Anglia in England. Details of the investigation
will be announced within days. See
news release from East Anglia.
Meanwhile, climatologists and those familiar with recent studies
continue to warn us that, if anything, early climate models were
too conservative in their predictions of climate change. The longer
we wait to take action, the harder it will be to slow the rate of
warming. Plants and animals (including humans) will have a harder
time adapting to new conditions. Some populations, possibly entire
species, may have no place to go as they attempt to adapt or face
I tend to take such warnings seriously, although I am not
oblivious to the many skeptics on this topic. In fact, in my search
for understanding, I’ve read more than my share of blogs written by
folks who either don’t believe the planet is warming or else don’t
believe man has anything to do with it.
This morning, I participated in a national telephone conference
with three climate experts: Richard Somerville, coordinating lead
author of the last report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC); Eric Steig, professor of earth and space sciences at
the University of Washington; and Michael Mann, professor of
meteorology at Penn State University.
They answered a variety of questions — ranging from new climate
data to the implications of more than 1,500 “stolen” e-mails that
have revealed the hidden, personal side of a few
climatologists. Continue reading →
The winning watercolor, which depicts “Planting in the Riparian
Zone,” is now on exhibit at Sea Side Gallery in La Conner.
The contest, sponsored by People for Puget Sound, recognizes
artwork that focuses on a Puget Sound theme, especially stewardship
to save the sound. Jacobsen was among 26 artists submitting their
Second place was awarded to La Conner artist Ken Hansen for his
sculpture, “Returning Sockeye.” Third place went to Peter Naylor of
Sedro Woolley for his photograph “Candystriped Shrimp on Crimson
Anemone.” An outstanding mention certificate was awarded to
Coupeville artist Shirley Ashenbrenner for her mixed media piece
Sea Side Gallery is at 112 Morris St., Suite A, in La Conner.
The work will be on exhibit through June 15. Phone: (360) 466-5141.
A portion of sale proceeds will benefit People For Puget Sound.
The Kitsap Peninsula largely escaped the onslaught of rains on
Wednesday, thank to the “rain shadow” effect of the Olympic
Mountains. See Brynn Grimley’s story in
yesterday’s Kitsap Sun.
The rain shield eventually broke down as the storm direction
changed, and we got hit pretty good yesterday. But the scattered
flooding and mudslides didn’t come close to what we saw in December
The biggest problem in this area was Highway 166 between Port
Orchard and Gorst, where perennial mudslides disrupt the normal
traffic flow. See Travis Baker’s story in
today’s Kitsap Sun.
As for other areas of the state, it’s worth noting that the
Sun’s Web editor, Angela Dice, and other newspaper Web editors used
some relatively new online tools — including Twitter and Publish2 —
to keep people updated about the weather. If you logged onto the
Sun’s weather coverage, you would have access to a growing list of
links about weather events taking place all over the state.
This flood of information was made possible through a
collaboration of online journalists and others who believe that
getting information out to people is more important than
old-fashioned competition, which used to dominate the news
business. It’s actually one of the few bright spots in an shrinking
industry where news coverage suffers amid the evaporation of
The story of this week’s collaboration was featured today in the
“Publishing 2,” which reports on developments regarding an
online system that helps connect journalists together. The author
of the piece, Josh Korr, calls this week’s effort a “quiet
revolution” in which “four journalists spontaneously launched one
of the first experiments in collaborative (or networked) link
journalism to cover a major local story.”
For the average reader, this new approach means that newspaper
Web sites become richer with breaking news. You could use the
Kitsap Sun, for example, to figure out which roads were blocked at
any one time pretty much anywhere in the state.
Want to be even more current with events? Go to the search engine on Twitter and
type in “#waflood.” You’ll see a twittering of reporters, highway
engineers and other people tweeting about the latest developments
on the roads and rivers.
I realize that many people are getting sick of snow in the Puget
Sound area as well as other parts of the country. I wanted to take
a moment to celebrate the snow and post a few pictures or videos
that might lighten the mood for those who need a lift.
Unfortunately, most of the locally produced snow videos show
little more than stuck cars and car crashes, which I rarely find
amusing. And I cringe at ski accidents and injuries on snowmobiles,
which are often compiled and promoted as funny.
So here’s a compilation of photos showing what snow can do. Yes,
I’m posting this “Amusing Monday” a day earlier than normal.
Animals are sometimes funny in the snow, but the reactions of
people are more amusing.
OK, I need to show you one car accident.
If you’ve seen enough snowy car accidents, as I have, then watch
how this one turns out.
Seriously, I know that the snow can be a pain. But we don’t
often see anything like this snow we’re getting. While you have a
chance, bundle up warmly and venture out into the world of snow.
Let the joy of childhood overtake you, and enjoy a cup of hot
chocolate for me.