Tag Archives: Potlatch

Oxygen in Hood Canal bounces back overnight

UPDATE: Sept. 24, 2010

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

Fish kill reported in southern Hood Canal

UPDATE: 9-21-2010, 11:35 a.m.

Low-oxygen conditions grew worse overnight. Lots of Hood Canal residents are reporting dead fish and spot prawns on beaches in southern Hood Canal. I’ve posted an update on the Kitsap Sun’s website.

Here are some graphics of the oxycline and time changes, courtesy of Jan Newton.
Continue reading

Oxygen in Hood Canal reaches dangerous levels

I hate to be the voice of doom, but low-oxygen conditions in Hood Canal have never been worse — if you can believe the data gathered since the 1950s, alongside more intense monitoring the past several years.

In the southern portion of Hood Canal, you only need to go down about 30 feet to begin to see stressful oxygen levels in the range of 2 milligrams per liter. For current conditions at Hoodsport, go directly to the Hood Canal Dissolved Oxygen Program’s website, which lists data sent back from the Ocean Remote Chemical Analyzer (ORCA).

Sea creatures are beginning to show signs of stress, according to scuba diver Janna Nichols, who described her findings to me Wednesday after a dive in Hood Canal. She talked about fish “panting” as their gills moved in and out rapidly. Some fish, shrimp and other sealife had moved into shallower water. Watch Janna’s video of a wolf eel and other visuals she captured on the dive.

When low-oxygen conditions are that close to the surface, the danger is that a south wind will blow away the surface layer and bring low-oxygen water right to the surface, leaving fish with no place to go.

Of course, I have no desire to see a massive fish kill, but we already know that fish are probably dying in deep water due to the stressful conditions. I collect this information and offer these reports so that people can alert researchers when something happens. Being on the scene when fish are dying could provide important information about the nature of the low-oxygen problem. For details, please check out my stories in the Kitsap Sun Sept. 7 and Sept. 15 as well as the more technical report from Jan Newton on Sept. 7 (PDF 320 kb).

The phone number to report fish kills or oil spills is (800) 258-5990 or (800) OILS-911

If you haven’t heard, the worst low oxygen conditions normally occur in the fall after a summer of burgeoning numbers of plankton, encouraged by nitrogen and sunlight. By fall, much of the plankton has died and dropped to the bottom, where decay consumes the available of oxygen.

While there are plenty of natural sources of nitrogen in Hood Canal, computer models have demonstrated that human inputs from septic systems and stormwater can push things over the edge in the fall.

Officials are hoping that a new sewage-treatment plant in Belfair will begin to reduce the inputs of nitrogen into Lynch Cove. Another treatment plant is being planned in Potlatch. Stormwater upgrades also are being proposed for Belfair and other areas.

In addition to the low-oxygen problem, Hood Canal was closed to the harvest of oysters after people became sick from vibriosis, a natural bacteria that multiplies in warm conditions. See Kitsap Sun story Sept. 10 and Washington Department of Health maps.

The orange triangles represent this year's composite oxygen levels for the south half of Hood Canal. The latest reading, near the end of August, is the lowest ever seen.

State budget supports Carpenter Creek bridge

Folks concerned about wild salmon in North Kitsap are celebrating the Legislature’s funding of $2.8 million for the long-awaited bridge at the mouth of Carpenter Creek near Kingston.

The project has been on and off for a decade, as I explained in story I wrote for the Kitsap Sun in December. The lobbying effort by bridge supporters, including the Kitsap County commissioners, was intense. That and continued support from Kitsap’s legislators are credited with getting the bridge funded.

It seems unlikely that bids for the bridge project can be advertised and contracts approved in time for this summer’s construction season, given the need to work around salmon migration. But we’ll wait and see how things are scheduled.

Leaders of the state’s environmental groups were disappointed that the Legislature failed to raise a tax on toxic chemicals, which would have set aside $100 million a year for stormwater projects. Addressing stormwater is considered the top priority for improving the water quality of Puget Sound and other waterways.
Continue reading

Skokomish Tribe floats the idea of a new Potlatch marina

Skokomish Indian Tribal Enterprises is developing a plan for a marina near Potlatch in southern Hood Canal and would like to know what boaters and residents think of the idea. Check out my story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

Possible marina location near Cushman power plan
SITE map (Click to enlarge)

The project is undergoing a feasibility study, but it could include slips for 25 to 35 boats and various amenities including a restaurant, fuel dock, fish-cleaning station, sewage-pumpout facility and restrooms.

Ed Binder of SITE said the tribe recognizes the sensitivity of Hood Canal but hopes to work through the various issues. Water coming out of the Cushman power plant could help stir the waters and reduce environmental impacts, he said.

Boaters and area residents are encouraged to express their opinions about the project in an online survey. If the project moves forward, it would take several years before the project would be built, Binder said.