Letter: Story erred in explaining stream health


The Division of Natural Resources within Island County Public Health is writing to provide additional information and clarity in response to the recent article characterizing water quality in Island County streams.

This article summarized a presentation by the DNR Surface Water Quality team, delivered to the Island County Board of County Commissioners during the March 13 work session. The presentation outlined the results of the team’s monitoring of the surface water quality around Island County from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023.

While the article stated that 50% of Island County’s streams are in poor health, it is important to note that this statement is an inaccurate interpretation of the results as presented. Of the total streams sampled and reported during that time period, 16, or roughly 50%, were classified as being in poor health; however, the team only monitors less than one-tenth of the total streams in Island County each year, and largely focuses on those that are known, suspected, or at greater risk of contamination. This important distinction better clarifies the number of streams reported to be in poor condition.

Island County DNR and the Environmental Health Division work hard to monitor our water resources across the county, and to mitigate pollution whenever possible. Our Pollution Identification and Correction and Adaptive Management programs identify and escalate collaborative pollution reduction procedures as outlined in county code. We continue to expand our surface water quality monitoring to obtain as much useful data as possible for use by the BOCC and other decision makers to protect the health of Island County citizens.

Jennifer Schmitz

Natural Resources Manager

Island County Public Health