Category Archives: Drinking water

Bremerton loses ground in annual ‘water pledge’ competition among cities

Bremerton may need some help to get back on top in the National Mayor’s Water Pledge Challenge, an annual competition that encourages people to take specific steps to save water and help the environment.

As usual, Bremerton started out on top in its population category when the contest began on April 1. The city held its own through most of last week. But now the city has slid down to number 4, which means that more water customers are needed to take the pledge. Go to My Water Pledge.

Bremerton has always done well in the competition, perhaps largely because of the enthusiasm of Mayor Patty Lent, who likes to see people conserve water and always wishes the city can come out on top in the competition. This year, a good showing in the competition would be especially nice, considering that Bremerton is celebrating the centennial of its unique water system.

“One hundred years into its operation, we celebrate the foresight of water professionals who built a drinking water system anchored by Casad Dam and delivered by a complex network of pipes, pump stations and reservoirs to serve a growing city through the war years and beyond,” Mayor Lent said in a news release.

“Continued conscientious operation, maintenance, and watershed protection ensure excellent quality at the tap,” she said. “We are inspired by the past to be responsible water system stewards and we look forward to the next century of service to our customers.”

An exhibit of the city’s water history opened Friday and will remain open through September at Kitsap Historical Museum, 280 Fourth Street in downtown Bremerton.

A brief written history of the water system can be found on the city’s website. On this page, I’ve also posted a video produced for the Kitsap County Historical Society and Museum. It features historical photos of water infrastructure in Kitsap County going back to the early settlement period.

As for the National Mayor’s Water Pledge Challenge, Mayor Lent encourages participation by reminding everyone she knows to sign the pledge. She hands out cards to people she meets and discusses the contest standings in her regular reports to the City Council.

“Water is Bremerton’s remarkable resource,” she said in a news release. “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.”

Kathleen Cahall, water resources manager for the city, said outreach efforts for the challenge include displays, flyers and car magnets plus appeals on social media. Water customers who do not have online access can fill out a paper form at the utility’s billing office on Oyster Bay Avenue, at Norm Dicks Government Center or at Kitsap County Historical Museum.

The contest, sponsored by the Wyland Foundation, is based on the percentage of people in a city or town who take the pledge in a given year. Prizes are awarded to some residents of the winning city in each population group.

When the contest began in 2012, Bremerton came in third place. But the following two years, 2013 and 2014, the city claimed the top spot before slipping to number 3 again in 2015. Last year, Bremerton came in second. Since the contest began, Bremerton has ranked ahead of all other cities in Washington state.

As of today, Bremerton ranks fourth in the 30,000-100,000 population category followed by Olympia, which is ranked seventh. Seattle ranks sixth and Tacoma 84th among cities with populations over 600,000. Port Townsend was ranked 42nd in its category.

Most of the cities in Washington state seem to be losing ground at this point. I hope that can be turned around. To see the standings, go to Nationwide Results.

Amusing Monday: Cartoon could be a mascot for this blog

If I needed a mascot for this blog, I just found the perfect cartoon character. His name is Raindrop, and he appears in a cartoon series called “Raindrop, the Water Adventure.”

While this cute and funny cartoon seems like something a child would enjoy, it also introduces concepts that many adults can appreciate — such as the formation of weather, pollution, erosion, evolution of life, and man’s role in altering the environment.

I’m seeing what appears to be a cartoon that appeals to a wide range of ages with discussions of water issues central to life on Earth. As such, these are also issues I often discuss while reporting about Puget Sound protection and recovery.

The first video on this page is the theme song for the series. The second — which is the first 25-minute cartoon in the series — introduces the characters, including two other stages of water and a motley crew of germs. The third video is a song found in an episode about rivers. To see the full episode, go to YouTube. The song can be found just after 11:00 minutes in.

To explore other cartoons and songs in the series, check out the YouTube page Raindrop, Water Adventure toons. One can also find coloring pages of the characters along with some other activities on this Motion Kids TV page.

I’m having trouble finding out much about the producers of this series. I know it is part of Motion Kids TV, a group within Motion Pictures, a video production and distribution company based in Spain. The cartoon was created in collaboration with educational television and has been sold in more than 70 countries, according to an entry in Wikipedia that provides no source for the information.

Rainfall in the first six months of water year exceeds yearly average

Halfway through the current water year, which began on Oct. 1, rainfall patterns on the Kitsap Peninsula are shaping up to look a lot like last year.

Hansville rain gauge (click to enlarge)
Source: Kitsap PUD

For most areas, total rainfall is well above average, as it was last year at this time. It is also well below the record accumulation in most places. One exception is Hansville in North Kitsap, as you can see in the first chart on this page. There, the total rainfall is tracking both last year and 1999 — the highest year on record, which goes back 35 years at that station.

Moving into the drier half of the water year, it is now obvious that we will be above average in rainfall for the entire year, since we have already reached the average in most places.

Average rainfall on the Kitsap Peninsula varies a great deal from north to south. Since 1990, the average precipitation at Holly in the southwest has been close to 80 inches, according to records from the Kitsap Public Utility District. That compares to Hansville in the north, which averages a little more than 30 inches.

Holly rain gauge // Source: Kitsap PUD

Checking the scale on the charts, one can see that Holly has had about 95 inches of precipitation over the past six months, which is more than all of last year and about 15 inches above the yearly average already this year.

In drier Hansville, the rainfall chart does not flatten out quite as much during the second half of the year. More than 32 inches has accumulated so far this year, which is just above the average for the entire year. Hansville is still chasing the record annual accumulation of 43.8 inches set in 1999. Last year’s total accumulation of 42.5 inches fell just short of that mark and was the second-highest on record.

In Central Kitsap, where most of the population resides, the total rainfall for the past six months has reached 51.7 inches, which is above the average for the entire year and just about equal to last year at this time. It looks like the record of 76.9 inches is safe for this year unless we get extreme rains during the last six months of the water year.

Silverdale rain gauge // Source: Kitsap PUD

The next three months in the Northwest are likely to be close to average for precipitation, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. Some chance of El Niño conditions are predicted for later in the year. If that occurs, it could reduce the amount of precipitation, but the effects are unlikely to make much difference before the end of the water year in September — although it could have an effect going into the 2018 water year and beyond.

Amusing Monday: World Water Day inspires photos and videos

World Water Day, coming up on Wednesday, is an annual event first established by the United Nations in 1992 to focus on the importance of freshwater and to encourage actions to provide clean drinking water while reducing water-borne illness around the world.

This year’s theme, waste water, was formulated into a question that creates a double meaning. It can be either “Why waste water?” or “Why wastewater?” The first question emphasizes the water-supply issues associated with World Water Day. The second emphasizes the closely related health aspects of sanitation. For a serious discussion of these two questions, listen to the talk on YouTube by Guy Ryder, director general of the International Labour Organization and chairman of UN-Water.

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Amusing Monday: Bottled water is now
the king of beverages

For the first time in U.S. history, the consumption of bottled water has now surpassed that of carbonated soft drinks, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation.

Bottled water consumption grew by 8.5 percent last year, while soft drink consumption fell by 1.7 percent, following an ongoing trend, according to the BMC’s Gary Hemphill, as quoted in Plastics News.

The statistics are based on volume consumed, not dollar value, Hemphill said. “Which is really kind of remarkable when you consider bottled water’s growth trajectory didn’t really start until the early ‘90s.”

The shift is largely attributed to growing health concerns related to drinking sugary soft drinks. But bottled water also is displacing the consumption of juice, alcoholic beverages and even tap water. See story by Hadley Malcolm in USA Today.

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Two-for-one executive order on regulations headed for showdown

The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward to protect people’s health from toxic chemicals, despite an executive order from President Trump that requires two existing regulations to be repealed for every new regulation approved.

Photo: André Künzelmann, Wikimedia commons

On Tuesday, the EPA will hold a public hearing to help develop rules for controlling the use of 10 chemicals evaluated under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act. (See EPA Public Workshop.) As I described in Water Ways, Dec. 1, these high-hazard chemicals could be banned or significantly restricted in their use. Seven of the first 10 under review have been found in drinking water at various sites across the country.

Preliminary information about the chemical risks and the evaluation process can be found on EPA’s TSCA website.

The revised Toxic Substances Control Act received overwhelming bipartisan approval in Congress. Even the chemical industry supported the law, in part because it would limit what states can do to ban chemicals on their own. Check out my story in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.

We have yet to see how Trump’s executive order on controlling regulations will affect upcoming rules for toxic chemicals, but the order is already causing some confusion. It has been ridiculed as “nonsensical” by environmental groups, which filed a lawsuit this week seeking to overturn the order. More than a few Republicans say they don’t know how it will work.

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Amusing Monday: Expanding the dictionary with help from friends

If you don’t know what something is called, you can make up a word for it — or perhaps a word to describe it. I guess that’s nothing new; every word in the dictionary must have come from someone.

I was amused recently when I heard an episode of “Says You” on public radio featuring a segment on made-up words. “Says You” is a game show that enlists a panel of well-read folks who try to explain the meaning of obscure words in the English language.

What surprised me was when the game went off on a tangent with the panel trying to guess the meaning of words taken from the Addictionary, which is sort of an alternative dictionary for made-up words not found in a regular dictionary.

So how does a game-show contestant define a word he or she has never heard before, a word that does not even exist? Thankfully, the made-up words used in the game were amalgams of recognizable words, so it was fun to hear the panelists struggle to find the definition of these new “words.” They were deemed correct only if their definitions matched those of the people who made up the words.

One that I recall was “bozone,” defined as “the substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating” — as in “bozone layer.” The panel had fun discussing how the word might relate to clowns.

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New toxic chemical law begins to review most-dangerous compounds

The first 10 toxic chemicals to be reviewed under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act were announced this week by the Environmental Protection Agency. After review, these chemicals could be banned or significantly restricted in their use.

Photo:André Künzelmann, Wikimedia commons
Photo:André Künzelmann, Wikimedia commons

As specified by law, the first 10 chemicals were chosen from 90 listed in the TSCA Work Plan, based on their high hazard and the likelihood of human and environmental exposure.

Incidentally, seven of the 10 chemicals to be reviewed are contaminants that have reached sources of drinking water at various sites across the country. Six of the seven are known or suspected of causing cancer in humans.

These are the seven chemicals known to contaminate drinking water:

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What comes next under water-quality standards imposed by the EPA?

The Environmental Protection Agency approved new water-quality standards for Washington state this week, overriding a plan approved by Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Department of Ecology.

It was a rare posture for the EPA. Now the state will be pressured to appeal the EPA standards to federal court. Cities and counties as well as some industrial organizations are clearly unhappy with the EPA’s action, while environmental and tribal representatives got most of what they wanted.

The basic structure of polychlorinated biphenyls, where the number and location of chlorine atoms can vary.
The basic structure of polychlorinated biphenyls, where the number and location of chlorine atoms can vary.

The EPA action is especially unusual, given that this state is known for some of the strongest environmental regulations in the country. After much dispute, Ecology finally agreed to much higher fish-consumption rates without increasing the cancer-risk rate, leading to more stringent standards for many of the chemicals. But Ecology had its own ideas for the most troublesome compounds with implications for human health. They include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic and mercury. For background, see Water Ways, Oct. 18, 2015.

Some news reports I saw this week said EPA’s action will lead to salmon that are safer to eat. But that’s not at all certain, and opponents say it is unlikely that the revised limits on chemical pollution will have any practical effect on compounds that affect human health.

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Rainfall records are beginning to fall across the Kitsap Peninsula

Water Year 2017, which began on Oct. 1, got off to a rip-roaring start this month in terms of rainfall, and now records are falling for October rainfall totals across the Kitsap Peninsula.

holly

As shown in the three charts on this page, the graph started climbing steeply above the lines shown — including the green lines, which denote the highest annual precipitation recorded for the past 25 to 33 years.

So far this month, 19.5 inches of rain have fallen at Holly, which has averaged about 7 inches in October for the past 24 years. As you can see in the annual rainfall map at the bottom of this page, Holly lies in the rain zone on the Kitsap Peninsula — the area with the greatest amount of rainfall in most years. With four days left in the month, Holly has about an inch to go to break the record of 20.5 inches going back to 1991.

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