Sakai students educate the public about Murden Cove concerns

Fifth grade students at Sakai Intermediate School have produced animated videos to educate the public about the Murden Cove Watershed. -
Fifth grade students at Sakai Intermediate School have produced animated videos to educate the public about the Murden Cove Watershed.
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Fifth-grade students at Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School have produced a series of animated shorts to teach the public about the Murden Cove watershed on Bainbridge Island.

The cove and its tributaries are currently known as the most unhealthy out of all the island’s watersheds.

In the videos, students talk about everything from the watershed’s boundaries to responsible management of grass clippings and the problems with dog poop.

“It’s an examination of the Murden Cove watershed which received a low marks for various pollutants,” said fifth-grade math and science teacher Adam Rabinowitz.

“My science classes learned about the watersheds where they lived and did research on practices which can affect health of a watershed such as washing cars incorrectly, grass clippings, not picking up dog manure and several other topics,” he said. “We made 15 videos that were representative of the students’ understanding of the issue.”

Murden Cove and its tributaries have attracted a cluster of interested parties beyond Sakai students such as the Kitsap Health District and the city of Bainbridge Island.

When the city produced a report on the state of the island’s water resources in 2012, it didn’t have too many good things to say about Murden Cove. The watershed often fell short of qualities desired for a healthy environment.

“Indications appeared to imply that there are water quality issues in Murden Creek and Murden Cove,” said city water resources specialist Cami Apfelbeck. “Particularly fecal coliform criteria, and we are also seeing nutrient levels in Murden Creek that were moderate to high relative to other creeks.”

Such nutrient levels as nitrogen and phosphorous were of concern, as were other aspects such as pH and temperature levels. The report also noted drops in dissolved oxygen, which aquatic animals depend on to breath.

“When those levels drop it is a threat to aquatic habitat,” Apfelbeck said.

The Murden Cove watershed stretches inward from the east side of the island, running from the north end of Winslow as far as Rolling Bay. Its 2,041 acres includes 2.2 miles of Highway 305 as well as parks, commercial and light industrial areas, and schools.

One of those schools, Sakai Intermediate, has a particular interest in the watershed. Each year, fifth-grade students release chum salmon into Murden Creek, which runs near Sakai’s property.

After the 2012 water report, Sakai officials contacted Apfelbeck about the issues with Murden Creek and Murden Cove. But they weren’t the only ones interested in the watershed. The Kitsap Public Health District also weighed in, then the Kitsap Conservation District, IslandWood, and Far Bank/Sage Enterprises, a local company known for its fly rods.

The health district received a grant for work in the watershed, and IslandWood received a grant as well.

Pretty soon Apfelbeck was coordinating with multiple parties to study the Murden Cove watershed, each working in unison.

Sakai students are taking part by testing the nearby waters of Murden Creek.

“They are getting quite an immersion into the world of water quality,” Apfelbeck said.

The Sakai students’ videos can be seen online at



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