Watching Our Water Ways

Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Posts Tagged ‘Liberty Bay’

Embracing a new approach to nonpoint pollution?

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

When it comes to cleaning up bacterial pollution in Puget Sound, we seem to have a clash — or at least some redundancy — in the methods we use.

Sailors take advantage of the nice weather last week on Liberty Bay. Kitsap Sun photo by Meegan Reid.

Sailors take advantage of nice weather last week on Liberty Bay.
Kitsap Sun photo by Meegan M. Reid.

In Kitsap County, water-quality officials are saying studies conducted by the Washington Department of Ecology, which allocated total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), have not been much help in attacking the local pollution problem.

That’s because the approach developed by Kitsap County, called the Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) Program, has been highly successful in tracking down and cleaning up bacterial pollution.

I wrote a story about this issue as it relates to Liberty Bay in yesterday’s Kitsap Sun.

I also talked a little about the two water-quality standards used for streams. It’s somewhat odd how Liberty Bay must conform to a stricter standard than nearby Dyes Inlet, since both are in urbanizing areas. By the way, there is only one standard for marine waters, and Liberty Bay is generally clean under that standard.

Other information on the Liberty Bay TMDL study can be found on Ecology’s website and in a news release.

With regard to cleanup methods, now that PIC has been adopted and funded for the Puget Sound region, one might argue that it is time to back away from the more cumbersome TMDL approach, which spends a great deal of money to allocate pollution loads with no guarantees that any cleanup will get done. For recent funding details, review the Washington Department of Health’s Page on “EPA Grant: Pathogens, Prevention, Reduction and Control” and the specific funding for PIC projects.

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Yesterday’s ‘King Tide’ nearly broke all-time record

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Bolstered by a low-pressure weather system, yesterday’s “King Tide” was felt throughout Puget Sound. At its extreme, the high tide came within 0.01 feet of breaking the all-time tidal record set for Seattle on Jan. 27, 1983.

Reporter Chris Henry wrote about some of the local problems in a story published in today’s Kitsap Sun. And the Sun’s editors put together a “photo gallery” of pictures taken by area residents. Pictures from other areas were posted on the Flickr website, where the Department of Ecology manages the “Washington King Tide Photo Initiative.”

I especially liked Jim Groh’s photos of the Poulsbo waterfront. Take a close look at the picture taken yesterday (below) and compare it to the one in Sunday’s Water Ways entry, which shows last year’s King Tide. If the word “Poulsbo” doesn’t look right in the picture below, it’s because the bottom half of the letters are under water.

This week’s King Tides are declining, but they are expected to be high again starting Jan. 14.

Poulsbo’s waterfront on Liberty Bay. / Photo by Jim Groh

Silverdale Waterfront Park on Dyes Inlet. / Photo by John Yates

The boat ramp at Fort Ward on Bainbridge Island was nearly covered by water. / Photo by Julie Leung


Poulsbo leads Kitsap with new shorelines plan

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Poulsbo is the first local jurisdiction in Kitsap County to update its Shoreline Master Program, as required by state law, and send it on to the Washington Department of Ecology for ratification.

The Poulsbo City Council approved the document Wednesday, as reported by Kitsap Sun reporter Amy Phan.

As required by formal state policies, the shorelines plan adopts numerous new regulations to accomplish these basic goals:

  • Protect the quality of water and the natural environment to achieve “no net loss” of ecological function as time goes on,
  • Encourage water-dependent uses along the shoreline while discouraging uses that are not connected to the water,
  • Preserve and enhance public access and recreational uses along the shoreline.

Poulsbo shoreline designations (Click to download full size (PDF 976 kb).)

Keri Weaver, Poulsbo’s associate planner, does a good job outlining the content of the Poulsbo Shoreline Master Program in her staff report (PDF 224 kb) submitted to the City Council. The full SMP (PDF 552 kb) is more revealing and not difficult to read.

The document lists five “shoreline environments,” defined by ecological characteristics and current uses, each with its own development rules:

  • Shoreline residential
  • High intensity
  • Urban conservancy
  • Natural
  • Aquatic

Check out the shoreline maps to locate each of the environments.

The always-controversial issue of buffers was settled during the previous update of Poulsbo’s Critical Areas Ordinance. The City Council saw no reason to revisit its justification for 100-foot buffers along the city’s saltwater shoreline on Liberty Bay and 150-foot buffers along Dogfish Creek, the largest stream draining into bay. In addition, 25-foot setbacks expand the no-building zone, but water-dependent uses and public access may be exempt from those setbacks.

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‘Water Courses’ will connect people to current issues

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

If you would like to learn about today’s leading water issues without being overwhelmed with technical details, you may be interested in a two-day seminar coordinated by WSU Kitsap County Extension and Washington Sea Grant.

The event, Oct. 14 and 15, is called “Water Courses: Connecting West Sound.” A number of impressive speakers are lined up for the two-day event. The first day is dedicated to research findings and restoration projects, with the second day focusing on the personal level, including how people can address today’s environmental problems.

While speaking of events, I should mention the latest in the Sustainable Cinema Series, sponsored by Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido. The film is called “The Age of Stupid.” It’s a retrospective look at today’s response to climate change from the perspective of people living in 2055. The film will be shown at Port Orchard’s Dragonfly Cinema at 6:30 p.m., with a discussion to follow. For details, see the Kitsap County homepage.

As for “Water Courses,” Peg Tillery, who coordinates Kitsap County Beach Watchers, said the seminar grew out of a desire to help residents of the Kitsap Peninsula get in touch with the water issues of today. Educational programs have been ongoing in other parts of Puget Sound, but nothing as wide-ranging as “Water Courses” has ever been held for a general audience in Kitsap County.

A coordinating committee started putting the program together by asking their friends and neighbors what they would like to know about water, Puget Sound and environmental issues. As a result, the topics have a greater down-home flavor than you’ll find at most conferences.

“Our goal is to have it every single year around this time, when people are back in school and the monsoons have started,” Peg told me. “Anyone 12 years old and older may attend, and we’ve tried to keep the cost low.”

Topics the first day include ocean acidity, water quality studies in Poulsbo’s Liberty Bay, pollution modeling in Bremerton’s Sinclair Inlet, marine reserves in Puget Sound, energy and sustainability initiatives, and the effects of stormwater on salmon.

The second day offers participants choices, with six topical tracks to choose from: science; food from the sea; going green; animals and critters; water quality, safety and getting involved; and plants and landscaping. One can stay on a single track for the full day or choose your favorite topics from among 36 presentations.

Check out the schedule and sign up early on the Kitsap Extension website. The cost is not much more than the catered lunch that will be provided. It’s $30 for the first day, $25 for the second day or $45 for both days.

Keegan Kimbrough, 15, designed a poster for “Water Courses: Connecting West Sound,” shown above.


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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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