Letters to the Editor

Island County commissioners want input on water utility

In Island County 75 percent of the tested watersheds have excessive levels of fecal coliform. Drilled wells are going dry in several communities and saltwater intrusion threatens residents who depend upon island aquifers for this most fundamental resource. Stormwater management needs across our county far exceed resources as beachfront communities struggle to manage runoff, created by development uphill. Septic inspection fees are unpopular but the state-mandated program must be supported at the local level.

Monday, the Board of Island County Commissioners took a preliminary step in a public process to address these needs in our community. Specifically the board took action to seek legal counsel on forming a Clean Water Utility, which could provide an integrated program at a lower cost than the $62 fee currently collected for just the septic program. The long-term health and economic stability of our county depends upon us finding ways to address these vital needs. Many of the surrounding counties and each of the county’s incorporated jurisdictions already have such a program in place.

This board is strongly committed to public outreach and civic engagement on important matters such as these. That will happen once our staff has prepared a recommendation for the public and the board to consider. Legal counsel is prudent at this point to ensure compliance and efficiency in our processes. About two dozen citizens spoke at Monday’s meeting, many encouraged more public information and discussion of the need for this utility before it is implemented. We agree completely. Our citizens deserve the opportunity to review the data and possible strategies before action is considered by this board. Please watch for outreach efforts on this topic in the coming months.

Helen Price Johnson

Island County commissioner

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