Bremerton remains a solid contender in the fifth National
Mayor’s Water Pledge Challenge, which encourages people to become
involved in water conservation.
At the beginning of this month, Bremerton started out in the
contest ranked first among cities of similar size across the United
States. Since then, the city has dropped to second, behind Andover,
Minn. To get back into first place, a fair number of residents in
Bremerton and the surrounding area will need to take the pledge for
water conservation before the end of the month.
The pledge involves answering a series of questions about one’s
willingness to save water, electricity and other natural resources.
To enter, go to www.mywaterpledge.com. When
finished with the questionnaire, one can enter a contest to receive
some nice prizes.
In 2013 and 2014, Bremerton came in first in the competition
among cities of similar size. In 2012 and 2015, Bremerton came in
third. In all four years so far, Bremerton has ranked first among
similarly sized cities in Washington state.
“Water is Bremerton’s remarkable resource,” Mayor Patty Lent
said in a
news release (PDF 139 kb). “I encourage all Bremerton residents
to pledge to learn more about their water and energy use at home.
This challenge, which runs through April, is an exciting
opportunity to learn about water wise habits as we engage in a
friendly competition with other cities across the nation to create
a more sustainable environment.”
Seattle, which is ranked fifth among cities its size, is the
only other city in Washington state to rank in the top 10. Olympia
is 12th for its size. Port Townsend is 17th. Port Orchard is 74th.
Poulsbo is 94th. Bainbridge Island is higher than 500th.
The water pledge, which is available until the end of April, is
sponsored by the Wyland
With half of our “water year” in the record books, 2016 is
already being marked down as one of the wettest years in recent
The water year, as measured by hydrologists, runs from Oct. 1 to
Sept. 30 each year, so we will be in WY 2016 for nearly six more
months. If things keep going as they are, we will see some new
lines plotted on the rainfall charts.
Joel LeCuyer, who keeps track of water data for the Kitsap
Public Utility District, points out that the district’s two
longest-running weather stations are on their way to record-high
Bremerton National Airport, with records going back to 1983,
accumulated 66.7 inches of rain at the midway point, compared to an
average of 56 inches for the full year.
Hansville, with records going back to 1982, has accumulated
36.6 inches, compared to a yearly average of 32 inches.
Looking at the charts, you’ll see that both the airport and
Hansville stations are slightly ahead of their maximum water year.
It will be interesting to watch this chart as we get closer to
June, when rainfall traditionally falls off dramatically. Whatever
happens over the next two months will likely foretell whether
annual precipitation records will be broken.
To access the charts, go to the KPUD website. Under the tab “Water”
click “Water Resources Data.” At the bottom of the map, click on
the tiny bubble “Rain gauges.” The red ones track precipitation
almost in real time.
Looking back, some rather dramatic downpours are already written
into the record books this year. For example, when considering the
top 10 rainfalls in a 24-hour period, nearly every station has at
least one rain event from WY 2016 among the top 10.
At Holly, four of the top 10 rain events recorded over the past
25 years occurred during the past six months. That’s interesting,
since Holly is one place where the total accumulation of rainfall
is still falling short of the record. Holly has already surpassed
the average annual rainfall of nearly 70 inches, according to the
chart, but it is unlikely to reach the nearly 130 inches of
rainfall recorded in 1999.
Above average precipitation was seen across Western Washington
for the first half of the water year, according to the National
Weather Service. The range was from 26 percent above average in the
Olympic Mountains to 40 percent above average in the Puget Sound
lowlands. Snowpack in the Olympic and Cascade mountains is about 10
percent above average.
Ted Buehner of the National Weather Service in Seattle reports
that the current warm El Niño is expected to weaken through the
spring. And there is a 50 percent chance that La Niña will return
next winter. That would typically bring cooler and wetter weather,
but rains over the coming winter will have a long way to go to
match what we’ve seen during this water year.
As for what we might expect from now through the end of summer,
the latest forecast from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says
temperatures are likely to be warmer than average in the Northwest
with slightly higher than even odds that the summer will be drier
The Eco-Comedy Film Competition was created to get people
thinking about the environment by reaching them through
entertainment instead of a heavy-handed message.
“Clean Water” is the theme for this year’s competition,
sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and American University’s
Center for Environmental Filmmaking.
More than 80 short films were entered into this year’s contest.
Everyone is eligible to vote online for the People’s Choice Award
by selecting from among the seven finalists. Watch those seven
videos on the
Eco-Comedy Film Competition website, and vote using the form
beneath the video players. Make sure you click in the lower right
corner to go full screen. I’ve posted a couple of my favorites on
this page, but please don’t let that influence your own choice.
The winning video will be selected by a panel of judges. The
Grand Prize winner will be announced March 22 and will be awarded a
Overall, the Kitsap Peninsula is expected to have enough water
for people and fish for many years into the future, as long as the
water is managed well, according to a groundwater model developed
by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The model offers reassuring findings for residents of the Kitsap
Peninsula. It is also encouraging to see local water, sewer and
public works officials working together to plan for infiltrating
stormwater along with recycling wastewater for irrigation. Those
efforts will not only protect the peninsula’s water resources but
will save money for water customers.
Lonna Frans of the U.S. Geological Survey met this week with
members of WaterPAK — the Water Purveyors of Association of Kitsap
— to discuss the conclusions of a five-year, $1.4 million study of
water resources across the Kitsap Peninsula. Lonna said a final
written report should be available in about a month. (See website
The most impressive part of the groundwater model is the mapping
of geology across the entire peninsula, based on more than 2,100
well-driller logs that describe the type of soil at various depths.
Putting that information together provides a three-dimensional
picture of the underground structure, including sand and gravel
deposits, which contain water, along with layers of clay and
compressed soils, which slow down the water movement.
By monitoring water levels in 66 wells over time and accounting
for rainfall and groundwater withdrawals, the computer model
provides a dynamic picture of what happens under various
conditions. The model can be used to predict what will happen to
Kitsap’s aquifers under various rainfall scenarios, including long
periods of drought.
The model also can predict what will happen to streamflows under
various rainfall scenarios. The Kitsap Peninsula has no mountain
snowpack to supply the streams with water during dry summer months,
so the water must come from slow-moving underground supplies.
Now that the model is complete, it can be run for almost any
pattern of rainfall or drought that one wishes to dream up. For
example, running the model with average rainfall and no pumping at
all (close to a predevelopment condition) would bring the average
groundwater level up about 25 feet — although groundwater levels in
some places would be raised more than in other places.
Streamsflows under the no-pumping scenario would be an average
of about 2 percent higher — although this would be difficult to
measure with current instruments. Nobody would really notice the
If pumping across the peninsula were increased by 15 percent,
there would not be much difference in aquifers near the surface and
only a two- or three-foot drop in aquifers around sea level.
Streamflows would go down by a fraction of a percent but not enough
Decreasing groundwater recharge by 15 percent, such as paving
over the landscape with new roads, houses and parking lots, would
have a greater effect on streamflows.
Again, not all areas on the peninsula will see the same effects.
The model can be used to zero in on specific streams and their
watersheds — although the smaller the area of study, the less
accurate the prediction is likely to be.
Bob Hunter, manager of Kitsap Public Utility District, said the
model can be used to predict the effects that new wells would have
on streamflows as the population grows. The model could advise
managers whether it would be advisable to pump certain wells at
certain times of the year and hold back at other times.
Kathleen Cahall, water resources manager for the city of
Bremerton, said the model can also be used to make sure
aquifer-recharge areas are protected and that industrial facilities
that store large quantities of chemicals are not located where a
spill could contaminate a major underground water supply.
Morgan Johnson, general manager of Silverdale Water District,
said he would like to use the model to predict what will happen
when highly treated effluent from the Central Kitsap Wastewater
Treatment Plant is used to irrigate ball fields and other areas in
Central Kitsap. Efforts between the water districts and Kitsap
County might lead to greater infiltration of water and greater
groundwater supplies to be pumped from existing wells throughout
The USGS provided half the costs for the study. The other half
was shared among Kitsap PUD; Silverdale Water District; West Sound
Utility District; North Perry Water District; Manchester Water
District; the cities of Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and Gig
Harbor; Washington Water, a private utility; and the Suquamish and
Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes.
If you write about “all things water,” as I do, sooner or later
you must write about toilets. On the serious side, we’ve discussed
the issue of sanitation and the lack of clean water in many areas
of the world. On the humorous side, toilet jokes seem to have
claimed a spot on many television sitcoms — but we don’t need to
get into that.
The word “toilet,” by the way, originated not from the device
used to eliminate waste nor from the room where this device was
located. It came from the French toile, the word for “cloth,” which
was draped over a lady’s or gentleman’s shoulders when their hair
was being dressed, as explained by Wikipedia. Eventually, the
entire ensemble of the dressing table, mirror, powders and brushes
came to be known as the toilette, as I described in an
Amusing Monday post in October of 2013.
I’ve covered funny signs to direct people to the appropriate
restroom. Visit the Chive
gallery for 14 of these amusing signs.
I don’t believe I have ever taken a close look at toilet seats
and their lids, but it turns out that many are available for
purchase on the Internet. On a related note, my wife Sue and I have
a bathroom decorated in a Seahawks theme. The green-and-blue lid on
the toilet seat celebrates the Super Bowl victory two years ago. It
was a gift from her brother.
Here are some of the amusing toilet seats I found. Click on the
image to find at least one place where the item is sold.
Store plenty of water. That’s my first bit of advice for
earthquake preparedness. I suggest storing water for drinking —
enough to last a week — and maybe some extra water for washing and
If we’re going to prepare for an earthquake, let’s prepare for a
big one. Then we’ll be ready for smaller ones or even severe storms
with the potential to isolate us. Getting ready for an emergency
can help reduce the anxiety of thinking about a long power outage,
broken water pipes and other damage. Do what you can, then realize
that recovery will come, though it could take time.
If you would rather ignore the dangers, I guess that’s one
option for dealing with this kind of anxiety. But it could be a
costly approach, one ultimately filled with regret.
I recently had the privilege to be part of a team of reporters
who wrote about the effects of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake along the
Seattle fault. If you haven’t read the stories in the Kitsap Sun, I
urge you to take a look at “The
Danger Below Us.”
It may seem like a random number — 7.2 magnitude, large for any
earthquake — but people need to understand that this earthquake
would occur at or near ground level on a fault that runs through
the center of Kitsap and King counties. That’s essentially right
next door to hundreds of thousands of people.
Such an earthquake is not imaginary. It has happened before —
long before any cities were built. Where the fault broke free, the
land and seabed were raised upwards by more than 20 feet. Evidence
is still visible at the south end of Bainbridge Island, where a
submerged beach is now high and dry.
Most of us have heard concerns about the worrisome Cascadia
subduction zone earthquake, which raised alarms after the New
Yorker magazine described its potential effects. But for many
residents of Puget Sound, a quake on the Seattle fault could be far
worse, though probably less likely over the next 50 years.
The Kitsap Sun stories were based upon an earthquake scenario
developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and presented
to local governments in a “Draft
Risk Report.” A separate scenario for a 6.7-magnitude quake was
developed in 2005 by
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, which modeled the
effects of fault rupture from Seattle through Bellevue to the
The death and destruction in either scenario is hard to imagine,
and who wants to think about devastation in this seemingly peaceful
part of the world? Keep in mind that even in a worst case, most
people will survive to rebuild and go on with their lives, as they
have in other parts of the world, including Japan. As we have
learned from other areas, being prepared can make a real
When I think about getting prepared, I begin with water. We
cannot live without it. The preparedness
list published on the Kitsap Sun’s website includes developing
an emergency plan for your family, addressing structural problems
with your house, learning first aid and several other things.
In the matter of the early-warning system, President Obama’s
proposed budget to Congress, released Tuesday, includes $8.2
million for the early-warning system. See the
news release from Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Derek Kilmer.
A good explanation about how people might benefit from the
early-warning system is provided by Richard Allen in a presentation
Feb. 2 in Washington, D.C., called “The Resilience Summit.” This
issue is discussed in a YouTube video
from 7:40 to 14:00 minutes into the video.
Another video, below, provides additional details about the
design of the early-warning system and how it would function in the
Los Angeles region. Called Shake Alert, the project has its
own website. The
Pacific Northwest Seismic Network is a key part of the
Did you enjoy this year’s Super Bowl commercials? Maybe it is
just my personal taste, but I don’t believe they were as good,
overall, as they have been most years.
Still, these are some of the most creative commercials we will
see all year. For this blog, I found enough water-related
commercials and funny bits for me to revisit a few. Later, I will
share some opinions from actual television reviewers, who have
ranked the best and the worst of this year’s flock of Super Bowl
The most dramatic water-related commercial was a spot for Death
Wish Coffee, sponsored by Intuit. In a fierce, dark storm, Viking
rowers are battling the waves and preparing to die when the
surprise comes for the viewer.
Have you ever watched a commercial and wondered at the end,
“What the heck are they trying to sell?” That was not the case with
Death Wish Coffee.
In my advertising classes in college, I learned that you need to
make the viewer remember the product. But I don’t believe that is
the top priority for Super Bowl commercials, in which the
producers’ goal may be to get people to remember the commercial,
irrespective of the product.
I guess all the rules go out the window when advertisers are
paying close to $5 million for a 30-second spot, a price reported
“Business Insider” magazine.
The next water-related commercial wasn’t about a product at all.
It was about the use of water, yet the name Colgate nevertheless
Jay Busbee and Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo Sports rated the Colgate
commercial highly for its social marketing effort. Here’s what they
“The toothpaste titan used its 30 seconds to remind those of us
with access to clean water to turn off the faucet while we brush.
We admire their effort to spread a message of conservation and for
resisting the urge to shame us for also forgetting to floss.”
I’ve chosen to recall three non-water commercials that I
enjoyed. The first is Butterfinger’s “Bolder than Bold” that uses
camera angles to take us deep into the adventure of sky diving with
one surprise following another in short order.
The next one, an ad for Avocados from Mexico, shows space beings
from the future visiting a museum, where familiar objects from the
2000s — including Scott Baio —are seen in a whole new light.
I also laughed at the Steven Tyler commercial for Skittles,
which features a singing portrait of the musician, a portrait that
ultimately explodes all over the floor. Not everyone thinks this
commercial is funny, as you may see from at least one of the
If you’d like to see more commercials with commentary check out
the story by
Busbee and Kaduk, who offered grades for the ads, and another
Robert Chan of Yahoo TV, who listed “The good, the bad and
I don’t know if so-called experts know any more than the rest of
us when it comes to which commercials are good or bad. Even though
the writers mentioned above are all from Yahoo, their opinions on
individual commercials are quite distinct. Even more divergent is
the top 10 as offered by
Which one was your favorite? Post a comment, and I’ll track down
the video and post it, assuming it is available.
Dana Lyons, known for his songs of humor and environmental
inspiration, performed his tune “The Great Salish Sea” during
Saturday’s Ways of Whales Workshop on Whidbey Island.
The lyrics are told from the perspective of “Granny,” an orca
estimated to be 104 years old and the oldest whale among the
Southern Residents. The song tells about how underwater sounds, as
heard by the whales, have changed over time — from the Native
American canoes and the sailing ships of yesteryear to the noisy
tankers of today.
Dana performed the song solo, with only his guitar, on Saturday
at the Ways of Whales Workshop, sponsored by Orca Network. The
sound was wonderful, and Dana’s voice rang out clear, but the
recorded version sounds richer with additional instrumentation, as
you can hear in the first video on this page.
“The Great Salish Sea” is the title song is from Dana’s latest
album, which includes the popular “Salmon Come Home.” I’ve posted
the music video of the salmon song in the second video player on
this page. Other songs on the album include “I Need the Water,”
which speaks of the competition for this limited resource. To hear
the songs on the album, go to
“The Great Salish Sea” on Dana’s website., which also includes
list of albums.
Dana has toured throughout North America and in many countries
during his 30-year career. His current schedule includes
upcoming appearances in Langley, Vancouver, B.C., and Port
Dana was born in Kingston, New York, and graduated from
Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He now lives in Bellingham.
Humor has long been a key part of Dana’s music, so I think we
should revisit one of his most popular songs, “Cows with Guns,”
viewed in the third video player (below).
Five years ago, I could not have predicted that Washington state
would end up in a serious conflict with the federal government over
water-quality standards to protect people’s health. But it has
happened, and there’s no clear resolution in sight.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency will hold a “virtual
hearing” on this issue in December. Read on for details, but let me
first provide some recent history.
In November 2010, I wrote about the Department of Ecology’s
newest undertaking, as the agency embarked on an effort to define
“how clean is clean” in protecting public health in state waters.
Water Ways Nov. 4, 2010, and also
Kitsap Sun Nov. 2, 2010.
It was obvious at the time that the state would need to increase
its existing fish-consumption rate of 6.5 grams per day — a key
factor in the formula used to calculate the allowable concentration
of toxic chemicals in the water. After much discussion and delay,
the state eventually proposed a rate of 175 grams per day — 27
times higher than the existing rate.
The controversy arrived when the state proposed a cancer risk
rate of one in 100,000 — a risk 10 times higher than the existing
rate of one in a million. The higher cancer risk rate would
somewhat offset the effect of the much higher fish-consumption
rate. Other factors were changed as well, as I described in the
second of a two-part series in the
Kitsap Sun, March 11, 2015.
When Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state’s newly proposed
standards, he also proposed new legislation to study and reduce the
sources of toxic chemicals of greatest concern. The Legislation
failed to gain enough support for passage during the past
The governor has since pulled back from the original proposal
and agreed to return to a cancer risk rate of one in a million. A
new proposal is expected to be announced after the first of the
year, Meanwhile, the EPA is moving forward with its own proposal,
probably more stringent than what we’ll see from the state. I
outlined the likely differences in
Water Ways on Oct. 8.
On Dec. 15 and 16, the EPA will hold what it’s calling a
“virtual hearing” on the proposed water-quality criteria that the
agency developed for Washington state. The web-based call-in format
is designed to save considerable money, according to Erica Slicy,
contact for the event. Given interest across the state, multiple
in-person hearings in numerous locations would be needed to
accomplish what two phone-in hearings can do, she said.
People will be able to watch the virtual hearing and/or testify
registering on EPA’s website. The event will be recorded and
transcribed so that people will be able to review the comments
later. Written comments will be taken until Dec. 28.
If the state comes up with proposed water-quality standards, as
expected, the EPA could put the federal proposal on hold while the
state’s proposal undergoes considerable scrutiny. Meanwhile, I’m
sure supporters of the more stringent standards — such as Indian
tribes and environmental groups — will continue to be frustrated by
Lawn Dude, a cartoon character invented to convey a
water-conservation message, has appeared on billboards in Southern
California, where he has become known for his frank but witty
When first introduced in the summer of 2014, Lawn Dude had this
to say: “I’d be the first to admit that I love using lots of water,
but I’m cutting back on my drinking because, take it from me,
nobody likes a drunk lawn.” Read the
press release issued on July 31, 2014.
Lawn Dude was launched as a cooperative effort between the
Southern California Water Committee, a nonprofit educational
partnership, and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, one of the world’s
largest outdoor advertising companies.
Appearing as a personified lawn, this unique cartoon character
can offer a unique perspective that might incite human action. He
can encourage people by saying things in ways that governments,
utilities and even conservation groups cannot.
“I’m fresh off a water cleanse and have never looked better,
thanks to that H2O diet Governor Brown put me on,” Lawn Dude said
upon his return in 2015. “I know people thought I might be all
dried up, but I’m back and ready to kick some grass.”
In addition to appearing on billboards the past two summers,
Lawn Dude continues to provide comments on his Twitter feed, and I would not
be surprised if he came back next year.
California remains in a serious drought. Gov. Jerry Brown and
the California Water Resources Control Board have imposed a series
of water conservation measures to protect the remaining water
supplies. For specifics, check out this
fact sheet (PDF 507 kb).
Charles Wilson, chairman of the nonregulatory Southern
California Water Committee, said the donation of billboards by
Clear Channel has made it possible to reach many people with a
reminder about water conservation.
“The Lawn Dude campaign has been a valuable way for the Southern
California Water Committee to grab the public’s attention when it
comes to outdoor water conservation, going beyond the limitations
typically placed on what public agencies and water districts can
say,” Wilson noted in a
One aspect of the campaign has been to encourage Californians to
remove their lawns. That’s when Lawn Dude got a new hairdo
featuring succulent plants, and he discussed it on Twitter:
“It’s time to take it all off, California!”
“Lawn Dude stripped nude. Now won’t you take it off?”
“Keeping me thirsty isn’t enough. I need a new look and I’m
loving the succulent style.”
“My trainer has been kicking my grass. It’s a good thing I lost
that water weight.”
The following video from KCAL-TV in Los Angeles is a news story
posted last year when the Lawn Dude campaign was launched.