To the editor:
I am a volunteer for the city of Bainbridge Island. Along with two other volunteers, I go out into the field for a couple of days each month to test the waters of our Island.
We typically monitor 16 to 20 watershed areas for such parameters as salinity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, etc. Additionally, we collect water samples which we then transport to Seattle to have professionally analyzed for the presence of such contaminants as fecal coliform, nitrates, ammonia and heavy metals.
Recently, we were asked to test two additional stream sites because traces of heavy metals and other carcinogens had been identified in previous samples. The goal was to test tributaries upstream of the original point where contamination was discovered, in order to locate the origin of the contaminants and help the polluter(s) improve their practices.
The volunteers commit to this work not because we particularly enjoy scrambling into ravines with cumbersome equipment to battle stinging nettles, blackberry vines, mosquitoes and the weather 12 months a year, but because we realize that maintaining our clean streams and improving our contaminated streams is critical to all life on Bainbridge Island. We also realize that the current city budget does not provide funding for paid water quality testers.
I am proud that the city of Bainbridge Island was recently able to publish its first comprehensive water quality report, entitled, “The State of the Island’s Waters.”
The entire report is available on the city of Bainbridge Island’s website or in hard copy at the public library or at city hall, so citizens can obtain detailed information about the water resources program and the quality of water all over the Island.
Amazingly, this program is now at risk. Our city council is considering taking action to further defund the program due to the persistent, vocal protests of two or three Islanders who appear to believe that monitoring the quality of our water is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Unfortunately, the city council has not heard much from the vast majority of Islanders who (I believe) care deeply about the quality of our water.
If you would like to express your opinion about the future of the Bainbridge Island water quality monitoring program, please contact your city council member or attend the upcoming evening city council meeting scheduled for this Wednesday, Nov. 14.