Clean water utility is a sound solution
December 17, 2010 · Updated 11:03 AM
I live on the north end of Camano Island. Nearby neighborhoods are running low on well water. A building moratorium and strict conservation measures were imposed for that specific development.
I am on the board of my local water company that serves 62 homes.
We wonder, how far into the future can we count on our existing water supply? Will ours be the next one to run out? Can we add more houses to our system? What would happen if all the homes used part time became full time? Is our water supply holding steady or is it shrinking? Is saltwater intrusion a concern? How will rising sea levels over the next 10 to 50 years affect us?
What would happen if broken pipes went undetected for months and there was a significant loss of water from our system; how long would it take to recover? How fast does water recharge into our system? How can our water company or any other water system plan for the future without reliable information?
Like all of Camano Island and most of Whidbey, my neighborhood relies upon the aquifer below as the sole source for clean drinking water for humans, animals, business and agriculture. We have lots of questions and few answers.
Island County government it seems would be a good source of information but since the financial crisis began in 2008, the county has cut over a third of their work force and no longer has a hydrogeologist on staff. For 20 years, Island County monitored and collected data on water, but due to the cutbacks, data is no longer being collected and no one is analyzing it.
When I heard that Island County commissioners have proposed a plan to create a clean water district, I thought the plan was brilliant.
I attended a public meeting on Camano Nov. 30 to learn more and came away convinced it is a very good plan.
One aspect of the proposed clean water utility is that it would be responsible for the state-required septic inspections. I will pay a fee for the CWU that is much lower than my current annual fee for septic inspection, but I will get much more in service.
With the new CWU, Island County will again hire a hydrogeologist to map and monitor the aquifer. With the exception of Oak Harbor, rain falling to the ground then recharging the aquifer is the source of our water. We need to know more in order to protect it.
The clean water utility is an extremely cost-effective and efficient means of raising the revenue that is needed, and consolidating the work. Island County government already has small government. We need the clean water utility if any new work is to be accomplished.
I urge everyone in Island County to support the clean water district as a sound solution.