Silverdale’s waterfront is seeing the effects of recent storms
in our area, as documented by Susan Digby, a geography instructor
at Olympic College.
High stormwater flows have washed litter, debris and dead salmon
into Sinclair and Dyes inlets, where currents and winds from the
south carry the materials to Silverdale’s beaches, including
Silverdale Waterfront Park and Old Mill Park.
“The north end of Dyes Inlet is like the end of a sock,” Susan
told me. “When we get rain and wind, everything piles up
Photos of all this debris — including parts of three docks —
were taken by Susan on Sunday, just two weeks after her students
cleaned up the beach entirely as part of an ongoing study that
counts and categorizes marine debris that collects there.
A phenomenal amount of trash winds up on our beaches, including
discarded food wrappers that people have carelessly discarded. Just
about anything that floats can wash into a stream or storm drain to
be carried into one of our local inlets. Some debris may be coming
from the nearby streets and parking lots in Silverdale, but some
could be coming all the way from Gorst, as suggested by
drogue studies (PDF 1.6 mb) conducted by the Navy.
As Susan points out, the debris includes lots of Styrofoam,
which can be ingested by birds and sea creatures, as well as baby
diapers and syringes, which are a reminder that disease organisms
are making their way into our local waters with uncertain effects
on the fish and shellfish we eat.
I plan to cover Susan Digby’s student research project in more
detail early next year, after 2012 data are compiled.
My original plan was to lead the story with the water resources
program and its 25 percent cutback in staffers who process
water-rights applications. The cutbacks will put the state further
behind in managing our limited water resources.
Because Ecology has taken a precautionary approach, the result
will be less water available to serve growing communities and
businesses. That becomes especially frustrating for developers and
water utilities, but a lack of overall management is not so good
for the environment either.
And we still kind of ignore that fact that people are allowed to
drill wells for their single-family homes without much regard for
the overall amount of water available. That issue will come home to
roost one of these days, because these are the wells most likely to
affect streams and wetlands. Conflicting demands will inevitably
rise to the surface one day.
Anyway, my original plan was to lead this story talking about
water resources, but I chose to focus first on litter. Litter is
easier for people to understand, and I thought more people could
get into the story from that angle. I know my blood boils when I
think of all the trash along the highways. I also discovered some
interesting details for my story.
Statewide, Ecology’s Youth Corps will be cut by half. That means
less litter will be picked up. As some folks pointed out in
comments on the story, we still have work crews from the jails, but
that effort also takes money for supervision, transportation and
disposal — and not all inmates are eligible to work. The state will
still support the inmate crews, though I need to check whether the
county will continue the program at the same level. (I’ll try to
report that here and in a comment on the story.)
Overall, Ecology will be able to make it through the downtown in
the economy without major problems. As with many organizations, the
biggest problem will be losing experienced, knowledgeable employees
and hiring back rookies when money becomes available.