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Don’t throw clean water out
I have been reading about the proposed clean water utility tax and must urge those who oppose all new taxes, please, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. This step has been years in the making, carefully created by respected members of our community who have served as volunteers on the Water Resource Advisory Board. It’s been supported by commissions Mac McDowell, Mike Shelton and Bill Byrd in 2005 to our present commissions. State and Island County health officials monitor our waters in key locations and find them straining under the pressure of population growth. Volunteer groups like Beach Watchers with retired WSU Professor Abdel-Monem have also been testing our waters and the results are alarming. Leaking septic systems, pet waste, fertilizers, pesticides, automotive fluids and other toxins all contribute to polluted ground and storm water. The Puget Sound Partnership states that storm water is the leading cause of pollution in Puget Sound.
Water is, hands down, our most valuable resource. It falls for free from the sky, it surrounds us on all sides, so it’s easy to take it for granted. But the emphasis here is on clean water, something we cannot live without. The plan being proposed would eliminate the unpopular septic system inspection fees and incorporate that into the plan. The clean water utility plan will help prevent pollution, restore our surface water, as well as help purify our storm water before it reaches our shores where it could compromise human health and the health of shellfish habitat. Our commercial and our recreational shellfish beds need protection. The clean water utility tax will provide us with a comprehensive and cost effective, long-term plan that is required by state law. The state departments of Health and Ecology, the Clean Water Act, Growth Management Act and the Watershed Management Act all require counties to develop a plan to protect our water resources, or the state will do it for us. Wouldn’t you rather have the locals in charge?
There will be a public hearing on Monday, Dec. 20, at 10:30 a.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, in Coupeville. If you have comments please contact Bill Oaks, Island County director of Public Works, at 679-7331.