Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cleaning up Lake Whatcom

The Lake Washington Story...
During the 1960's, Phosphorus was found in concentrations of 70 parts per billion in Lake Washington. That's a high enough phosphorus concentration to stimulate significant algae growth. But a U.W. Professor, Dr. W.T. Edmondson, predicted that the construction of effluent treatment facilities could dramatically improve water quality in Lake Washington.

In response to community water quality concerns, King County established Metro and embarked on a $140 million dollar campaign (at the time the most costly pollution control effort in the nation) to construct more than 100 miles of trunk lines and interceptors to carry sewage from Lake Washington to sewage treatment plants built at West Point and Renton.

Effluent, which had been estimated to be entering the lake at 20 million gallons per day, was reduced to zero discharge by February of 1968. The concentrations of point and non-point phosphorus loading dropped to 16 parts per billion which increased the lake's transparency from a mere 30 inches in 1964, to 10 feet in 1968. As time passed, water quality continued to improve, and eventually tranparency increased to 20 feet, reaching a transparency of 25 feet in 1993.

Phosphorus is a necessary nutrient for algae growth, and certain species of algae is able to thrive in phosphorus rich lake water. With the sewage diversion from the lake and the resulting decrease in available phosphorus, conditions were no longer favorable to algae growth and it diminished entirely in 1976.

The Lake Union Story...
Like Lake Whatcom, the hydrology of Lake Union was altered by the construction of the Fremont and Montlake cuts and the construction of the locks. These modifications increased inflow to Lake Union by diverting the Cedar and Sammamish rivers and outflow from Lake Washington via the Montlake cut and the ship canal.

Lake Union contains soft sediments which contain a large amount of organic material. As microrganisims in the sediment break down, they consume much of the oxygen in the lower part of the lake. Lake Union is heavily urbanized and it's shores are almost completely lined by marinas, residential homes and commercial/industrial neighborhoods. But dissolved oxygen is not as big of a problem as it once was during the summer months.

To address contamination and pollution concerns in Lake Union, a Sewer Overflow Control Program was implemented in the 1980's. The sewer overflow program separates storm water from the University Regulator drainage basin with a new storm water discharge to Lake Union. The overflow program has been in place since 1994.

King County and the City is monitoring the separated storm water discharge to collect data to determine if external phosphorus loading, heavy metals and organic pollutants can be effectively managed through stormwater overflow programs.

The Lake Sammamish Story...
Lake Sammamish is the 6th largest lake in Washington and, although not as developed as lake Union or Lake Washington, still has some of the highest rates of development in Western Washington. Lake Sammamish is a major recreational and residential water body that is heavily used by boaters, fishers, swimmers and skiers.

Like Lake Whatcom, Lake Sammamish is a long, uniform trough that was carved by glaciers. The 1996 Lake Sammamish Water Quality Management Plan studied point and non-point pollution in the Lake Sammamish watershed and determined that new development, roads, logging, and expanding urban areas have contributed to increased pollution in the lake.

But studies have demonstrated that phosphorus loading can be managed through drainage system design, by increasing sewer service and encouraging homeowners, through education and incentives to use best management practices to reduce point and non-point pollution in the watershed.

Although large amounts of algae may relate to changes in conditions, this increased presence may not always reduce beneficial uses.

For the last 15 years, the City of Bellingham and the Lake Whatcom Water District has provided homeowner education to residents who work and live in the watershed. Many property owners, like my husband and myself, have spent thousands of dollars (our own dollars, not tax-payer dollars) installing drain systems to capture and redirect surface and stormwater runoff to ground, (thanks to all the building that is taking place behind us), and have adopted best management practices, (BMP) including natural yard care, using phosphorus free soap to wash cars, installing french drains to capture and redirect rain water runoff from gutters, disconnecting the gutters from sewer lines (which was at one time a legal requirement) to ensure that we are not negatively impacting the health of the lake.

Blaming watershed residents for all of Lake Whatcom's water quality problems is not only short-sighted, but downright arrogant.

17 years ago, during the permiting process, my husband and I had to fight hook, tooth and nail to keep three mature trees on our property. (The City's policy was to force property owners to cut down trees prior to construction because trees present a danger to new and existing structures). Today, the three block area behind my home is almost bare, thanks to the City's policy. The only trees that remain standing are those that are growing on undeveloped lots or alleys.

In addition to draconian land clearing requirements, the City sold the majority of "street easements" that abutted the lake to developers so they could build homes. The sales resulted in the elimination of precious "green space" that provided some measure of natural stormwater runoff absorption at the base of a number of city streets.
Today, many of those homes have sand bags in front of them to prevent flooding during storm events. Obviously, it's not a good idea to build a home at the bottom of a steep road. I have observed sheets of water plumeting down Silver Beach Avenue and Academy during major rain storms.

Point and non-point pollution in the watershed is and continues to be a government-caused problem. The City and County planning departments zoned the watershed to allow construction of residential homes without providing adequate sewer and stormwater managment facilities to protect our drinking water. The majority of lots in Silver Beach are small - (50 by 120 feet in my neighborhood).
The lots were short-platted long before my husband and I purchased our property in 1987.

Washington's Municipalities and Counties have known about phosphorus and other sources of pollution for decades. As noted above, King County acknowledged and began addressing phosphorus loading back in the mid 1950's. Responsibility for planning and zoning falls squarely on the shoulders of cities and counties, not individual homeowners.

But, pointing fingers and assigning blame will not assist us in our efforts to improve water quality in Lake Whatcom.

If the City's proposal to merge with the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District is based on a sincere desire to improve water quality; then the City will make significant financial investments in sewer upgrades to ensure that the majority of residential homes in the Lake Whatcom Watershed have access to sewer and stormwater management services.

The cost of cleaning up the lake should be shouldered by everyone who uses the watershed, not just the individuals who live here. Thousands of people own boats in this county - and many of those boat owners launch their boats at public boat launches on Lake Whatcom.

Other sources of pollution include old saw and lumber mill sites and old abandoned coal mines. Early Whatcom County history books include observations of the lake that include detailed descriptions of cloudy, polluted water from mining and industrial activity.

Over the last fifteen years, the Britton Road has become a major truck route - with hundreds of dump trucks transporting thousands of pounds of dirt, rock and debris in and out of the watershed each summer and fall. The trucks use North Shore Drive as a connector to Lake Whatcom Boulevard and North Shore Road.

Thousands of non-watershed residents use the lake for swimming, hiking and fishing each year. Everyone who recreates in the watershed has a responsibility to ensure that Lake Whatcom meets or exceeds public drinking water quality standards.

Again, past research supports the installation of sewer lines to capture and remove effluent from watersheds. Once effluent is removed, the concentration of phosphorus and other contaminants drop quickly, over time.

Another major contributor to phosphorus loading is logging. Whatcom County is blessed with millions of acres of forest lands. Which means -- we can afford to be selective about logging in the watershed.

Contrary to what we read in the Bellingham Herald comment section, the release of the recent TMDL study does not mean that we have to rip down houses, pull up streets or abandon our city neighborhoods.

But it does suggest that we need to work together in partnership with other governments, like Whatcom County, the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District and state regulatory agencies to design a cost effective management plan to protect and restore water quality in Lake Whatcom. The Department of Ecology is recommending that we reduce phosphorus loading by 70%.

In addition, there are a number of cost effective ways to deal with the capture of household pollutants in storm drains. Check out Science Daily at New products, like the smart sponge remove common household pollutants like paint, oil, grease, nitrocarbons and E. coli bacteria.

I find it difficult to comprehend the hatred, bigotry and intolerance expressed by individuals who are advocating the removal of people, not pollution, from the watershed as the only way to control contaminant loading.

But if this is the approach that the citizens of Bellingham choose, I'm willing to make the City a once in a life time offer, $585,000 cash --today -- and my beautiful home on the hillside overlooking Lake Whatcom will be yours to raze to the ground --

Re: technology and stormwater treatment --

**ScienceDaily -- "Storm drains fitted with a spongy material -- a synthetic polymer similar to those used in diapers -- can catch household pollutants such as paint and motor oil as they are washed off by the rain. Twenty-eight states are already using the material to stop pollutants from reaching rivers, lakes and oceans."

Click here to view educational video:

** This post is not intended to be an in depth study of phosphorus loading programs. It's a brief summary of phosphorus loading in urban lakes in King County. A visit to King County's official site will provide readers with detailed information about the programs.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cheap Gas in Bellingham

Yes, I know - there is no such thing as cheap gas in Bellingham.

Nevertheless, here are today's prices - drive a little, save a bunch.

$3.59 per gallon
3002 Old Fairhaven Pkwy & 30th St

$3.63 per gallon
Pacific Hwy & Slater Rd

$3.63 per gallon
4299 Guide Meridian St near Kellogg Rd

Power Gas
$3.67 per gallon
4209 Meridian St near Kellogg Rd

$3.84 per gallon
Samish Way & Bill McDonald Pkwy

$3.85 per gallon
1115 Iowa St & Moore St (East Side)

$3.85 per gallon
900 Iowa St & King St

$ 3.89 per gallon
1101 Iowa Street

Colorful race for Mayor in London

There are ten candidates to choose from in Thursday's Mayor election scheduled for May 1st.

Richard Barnbrook, of the British National Party, Gerard Batten, of the UK Independence Party, Sian Berry, of the Green Party, Alan Craig, of the Christian Choice Party, Lindsey German, of the Left List, Boris Johnson of the Conservative Party, Ken Livingstone, Labour Party, Winston McKenzie, Independent, Matt O’Connor, of the English Democrats and Brian Paddick, of the Liberal Democrats.

The top two contenders for the post are Borris Johnson, a member of the Conservative party and incumbent Mayor Ken Livingstone. According to London media, this is an an election that will be decided on "personalities" rather than positions on public policy or past voting behavior.

Challenger Boris Johnson has attacked Ken Livingstone's record as mayor of London. Mr Johnson accuses his rival of wasting taxpayers' money and, if elected, he vows to be an advocate for the business community, reduce crime and get more police officers on frontline duties. Odds put Johnson at 2/1.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone had five children from three different mothers, the BBC reported Thursday, adding more intrigue to London's already colorful mayoral race. Livingstone told a BBC reporter, "Clearly, I don't think anybody in this city is shocked about what consenting adults do..., "As long as you don't involve children, animals or vegetables they leave people to get on and live their own life in their own way." He also collects Newts.

Bob Sherwood, a London Journalist tells readers, "The leading challenger (Johnson) has written about “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”, while the incumbent (Livingstone) "has ­likened a Jewish newspaper reporter to a concentration camp guard..." welcome to the electoral battle to be mayor of London.

To stand as a candidate for Mayor, candidates must be 18 years old and a citizen of the U.K. European Union or Commonwealth. Candidates must also be registered to vote in London, or have lived, worked, rented or owned property in London for the last 12 months. Nominations open on March 18, 2008 and the election is held on May 1st.

Candidates are required to submit a nomination form and gather 330 signatures from people on the electoral register supporting the nomination. The signatures must come from each London borough and from the City of London. Candidates are also required to pay a deposit of 10,000, which is returned if the candidate receives more than 5% of first choice votes in the election.

If a candidate is standing for a registered political party, he/she must have a certificate from the party. A candidate not standing for a registered political party can either use the description “Independent” or have no description.

Candidates are limited to spending no more than 420,000 on their election campaigns. Expenditures are limited to party political broadcasts, advertising, unsolicited material distributed to voters, party manifestos, market research, press conferences and media, transportation during the campaign and rallies or other events.

The Mayor’s job consists of several roles: putting together plans and policies to improve the city and benefit Londoners, managing London’s government with a budget of 9 billion to run transportation services, police and fire services and promoting London’s economy.

The Mayor also works closely with London’s borough councils – who are responsible for many local services. The Mayor is not responsible for housing, schools, social services, hospitals, street cleaning, council tax rates, parking fines or permits.

Before using any of his powers, the Mayor is required to consult with Londoners. The London Assembly exists to examine and question the Mayor’s plans, decisions and to review the Mayor’s annual budget. In other words, the Assembly acts as a system of checks and balances to protect the interests of the citizens of London.

The public can question the Mayor in person twice a year at People’s Question Time.

Additional details about the election can be found here:

London Candidate’s book is here:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sensible Merger, or Elitist Power Grab?

The City of Bellingham is proposing a merger with the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District under the pretext that it wants to provide existing Water District customers "cheaper, safer, water service."

But Washington's Special Purpose Water Districts have routinely provided clean, safe, and affordable drinking water to one third of Washington's citizens for decades.

In fact, special purpose Water Districts treat water to the highest standards set by Federal and State drinking water laws and drinking water is distributed through well-maintained distribution systems that provide protection for our public health.

The City opines that taking over the Water District will give them the power to determine how much development happens in the unincorporated portions of the Lake Whatcom Watershed. Which raises an interesting question - does the City of Bellingham have the legal authority to set land use policy in unincorporated portions of Whatcom County?

Shouldn't future land use decisions in Whatcom County be made by the Whatcom County Council rather than the City of Bellingham?

With a Special District, citizens who live within the service area have a right to elect Commissioners to represent them. These elections provide district customers a voice regarding the way fees are set and the system is managed. If the Commissioners abuse the power they have been given, the voters can remove them from office.

If the City takes over, Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District customers will have little or no say about the way the system is managed in the future.

Even on it's best days, the City of Bellingham does not have the reputation of being "constituent friendly." So, why on earth would Lake Whatcom Water District customers want to hand over control of their water and sewer system to the City?

I hate to see Special Districts vilified. Especially when they work as hard as they do to provide, safe, affordable drinking water for the citizens of our state.

It's sad, but it appears that the City is not interested in working cooperatively with other governments, despite numerous campaign promises to the contrary.

If the City of Bellingham has concerns about growth in the Lake Whatcom Watershed, it would be in the City's best interest to sit down with Whatcom County and hammer out a Lake Whatcom Watershed Land Use Management Agreement. (The City can tackle growth issues within the City limits of the Watershed and Whatcom County can tackle growth issues within the unincorporated areas of the Watershed).

For those who are not familar with Special Districts, here are the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District's Mission and Goals:

To provide the best possible water and sewer services to District customers at an affordable cost, and in a way that contributes to protecting Lake Whatcom’s water quality.

To provide safe and reliable drinking water and sewerage collection to District customers.

To establish connection charges and utility rates necessary to maintain the District’s financial viability.

To protect the natural resources within the Lake Whatcom watershed through cooperative efforts with other community and governmental organizations.

To be recognized as an outstanding public utility that is responsive to the diverse expectations of its customers.

To maintain the District’s facilities through effective planning, prevention, and corrective maintenance practices.

To provide sewer and water service to those portions of the District as may reasonably be served.

To have an organization environment that is responsive to customer needs, promotes teamwork, and allows all people to achieve their full potential.

Good governance should be about developing solid working relationships with other governments in the community - not shutting them down.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What is the 2005 WRIA 1 Watershed Management Plan?

Over the last few months, there has been considerable discussion of forming yet another Watershed Management Process (We have already had three other processes over the last 15 years) to address water quality issues in Lake Whatcom and Whatcom County.

The County is actively pursuing what is called the County Water Resource Integration Project CWRIP and the City is advocating the creation of a "Water Czar" to address water quality issues in Lake Whatcom.

Some of the proponents for a new process claim that the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Plan is dead -- which I find interesting, since I recently attended a Watershed Management Meeting at Whatcom County's Water Resources Offices. (I'm a board member of the Whatcom Water Systems Caucus (non-municipal purveyors) and one of the former Planning Unit Representatives for the Whatcom County Water Districts - back in 2001 & 2002).

(I'm including for your review a summary of Whatcom County's Watershed Management Plan and a list of concerns that were raised by members of the board of the Whatcom Water System Caucus earlier in the month).

The article below was drafted by our Planning Unit Representative and was submitted to Whatcom County Council members and Planning Unit members on April 9th. I'm solely responsible for what is posted above, so please direct your comments to me, not to our caucus.

The 2005 Watershed Management Plan (2005 WMP) was intended to be, and is, a comprehensive framework within which and process by which local water resource challenges, including all aspects of water supply, quality, water-dependent habitat and instream flow are to be addressed in a collaborative manner. While apparently slow and cumbersome, proceeding by achieving broad stakeholder agreement can yield long-term, stable and beneficial results for all parties – something that cannot be said for other approaches.

In the context of a looming basin-wide water rights adjudication, the 2005 WMP will prove more valuable still, as it provides the means to reach a settlement of that dispute that will have to be reached one way or the other.

Habits of mind apparently have misled many into thinking of the 2005 WMP as something other than what it is, and those habits have in turn led to problems with the County’s County Water Resource Integration Project (CWRIP).

You can’t fix a problem using the same thinking that created it. In the case of water resources the central problem is a piecemeal, scattered, compartmentalized approach that fails to build on past work and experience. The CWRIP was initiated precisely for that reason. Yet, it suffers from the very same problem it was intended to cure. The framers of the 2005 WMP also recognized the central problem of approach water resources in a compartmentalized manner, and the 2005 WMP was also explicitly designed to address it. There can’t be more than one comprehensive water resource process that truly meets the face value definition of the term.

Thus, while well-intentioned and potentially very useful, the County’s CWRIP was generated seemingly without regard to the relevant work accomplished in the 2005 WMP, including especially key sections of the March 2000 General Scope of Work and the entirety of the Natural Resource Policy Integration Program. Documentation of that allegation is provided herein.

One key factor that appears to have been overlooked is that the failure to use the work products of the 2005 WMP in formulating a CWRIP (or any other water resource-related policy, program, or project) is that the elements of the 2005 WMP are designed, through a carefully developed adaptive management process, to improve with use. If the elements of the 2005 WMP are not used, they will not improve, and not improving, they will become increasingly irrelevant over time until they are useless, whereupon the many years, millions of dollars, and thousands of person-hours expended upon them will have been totally wasted.

A proposal to rectify these problems is also provided herein. By scrapping current plans to form yet another citizen advisory committee to the CWRIP and recommitting itself to work within the framework and process already provided by the 2005 WMP, the County can bring itself back into compliance with the terms of the Joint Board/Planning Unit contracts and agreements, and improve the odds of making the CWRIP the fully successful program it can and should be.

There is a great deal at stake for the County in water supply issues, especially water rights. Even though the county has no water rights and provides no water service, it has a huge and unavoidable potential liability as the receiver of last resort for all water purveyors within the County that fail – and absent a means to address the water supply issues we face, those systems without rights, and even many of those with junior rights, stand to fail when (and its only a matter of time) the water rights code is enforced.

NOTE: The dutiful yet bored or impatient or extremely busy reader (and doesn’t that pretty much take care of everybody?) can jump to the last two sections of this document (proposed solution and what’s at stake for the County) unless they would rather dig into the discussion and joint the argument, in which case you’ll do well to read every word of the following.

Two key misconceptions, bred by the habit of sloppy language, are leading us astray:
During the March 2008 Planning Unit meeting County staff stated something like, “There’s more going on than just ‘the WRIA.’” This statement is either nonsensical or false, depending upon what it meant by it. It is also dangerously misleading, as will be demonstrated herein.

The first problem is the confusion surrounding the misuse of the term WRIA itself. WRIA 1 is nothing more than an acronym for Water Resource Inventory Area 1, a totally arbitrary designation for a specific geographic area that is not quite coterminous with the boundaries of the western two-thirds (or whatever it is) of Whatcom County. A state statute, the Water Resources Act of 1971, directed the Department of Ecology to define all of the major watersheds of the state, of which there are about 50 in total, and WRIA 1, comprising the Nooksack basin, coastal drainages such as Drayton Harbor, and the Lake Whatcom drainage, is just one of those areas; it excludes certain areas of the county, including those which drain down the eastern slopes of the Cascades. Some parts of Skagit County are included in WRIA 1.

When at the end of his epic exploration of what was to become the southwestern portion of the United States, Major John Wesley Powell made his report to the Dept of the Interior, he recommended that when county boundaries were established in what were soon to be western states, drawing county boundaries along traditional lines should be abandoned, in favor of using watershed boundaries. Had his remarkably prescient and tragically ignored recommendation become accepted, today there wouldn’t be a difference between Whatcom County and WRIA 1, they would be one and the same. Today, rather than the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Project, it would be the Whatcom County Water Resource Management Project. And that is what it is, save for the boundary issues noted above.

Why does this issue matter? Because it has become common – and dangerously misleading -- practice, ever since the Watershed Management Project was initiated, to refer to it as “the WRIA” as if it were something altogether foreign, or if it were just another project, and an obscure and odd one at that, rather than what it was intended to be (and will be, but only if put into practice), a comprehensive water resource management mechanism that applies to all jurisdictions within the geographic boundaries of WRIA 1.

In an ideal world, participants in the Watershed Management Project, especially the members of the Joint Board and all their staff, would henceforth refer to the Watershed Management Project or 2005 Watershed Management Plan as such, and stop using “the WRIA” as the handle for either. In reality, this misleading and damaging practice is likely to continue, but that is unfortunate.

It’s a framework and a process, not just a project or program.

The next, and far more serious, common conceptual error, again reinforced and perpetuated by language abuses, is that somehow “The WRIA” is just another program, like Critical Areas protection, or another project, like building a dam (or removing one J), and further, that it is conceptually and practically disconnected from any other water resource activities within Whatcom County. It is no such thing. The 2005 Watershed Management Plan was intended to be and is a comprehensive framework within and process by which all aspects of water supply, quality, water-dependent habitat instream flow is to be managed. So, to that extent, it is simply not true that there is more going on than ‘The WRIA.’

To document that assertion, consider these extensive excerpts from the 2005 WMP’s March 2000 General Scope of Work:

1.0 Initiation
1.1 Background

Beginning in 1998 and continuing over the next few years, decisions will be made and plans developed and implemented regarding the water resources of the Nooksack River watershed and certain adjacent streams (Water Resources Inventory Area 1 or WRIA 1). These decisions and plans will coordinate with the land use/resource management planning under the Growth Management Act, the Shorelines Management Act, and other similar Acts, along with planning/projects in response to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing for Chinook salmon and bull trout, and will largely determine the landscape, the environmental health, and the economic future of Whatcom County residents. Agencies of federal, tribal, state, and local governments are authorized to make these decisions. The state legislature, with agreements from federal agencies, provided an opportunity for watershed management decisions to be made locally.

In 1998 the State legislature passed Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2514, codified as RCW 90.82, known as the Watershed Management Act. The Act provides a framework to better understand the nature and extent of water resources issues and to locally plan and implement a variety of solutions to address those issues. More specifically, the Act requires the development and implementation of a Watershed Management Plan that:

· Balances the competing resource demands in the watershed;
· Provides for the economic well-being of the citizenry and community;
· Protects existing water rights;
· Is consistent with current law;
· Does not conflict with existing state statutes, federal laws including Endangered Species Act (ESA) recovery actions, tribal laws, and tribal treaty rights; and
· Provides local citizens with the maximum possible input concerning their goals and objectives for water resource management and development.

Further on in the same section of the same document we find the following:

1.3 Implementation Strategy for Scope of Work

The purpose of this scope of work is to outline the general process, strategy, and actions necessary to address water resource issues in WRIA 1, including the actions taken to date. It provides the framework from which more detailed work plans will be developed and implemented. These work plans will include goals/objectives, specific tasks, budgets, who will implement, work products, and schedules.

From the foregoing, is it not extremely difficult to imagine how the intent of the 2005 WMP could be construed as anything other than a comprehensive framework and process within which all water resource management programs and projects within the delineated geographic boundaries henceforth would be conducted?

Further evidence from the same source abounds. Consider these excerpts from Section 2.0 of the same March 2000 General Scope of Work:

2.1.1 General Purpose/Goals of the Watershed Management Project
In general, the goal of the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Project is to have water of sufficient quantity and quality to meet the needs of current and future human generations, including the restoration of salmon, steelhead, and trout populations to healthy and harvestable levels and the improvement of habitats on which fish rely (9)

2.1.2 Goals of the Watershed Management Project Components
More specifically, the Project will address the following specific goals/purposes for each of the four components identified in the Watershed Management Act and the intergovernmental Memorandum of Agreement (MOA):

Water Quantity: The goal of the water quantity component is to assess water supply and use and to develop strategies to meet current and future needs (1). The strategies should retain or provide adequate amounts of water to protect and restore fish habitat (9)2, provide water for future out-of-stream uses and to ensure that adequate water supplies are available for agriculture, energy production, and population and economic growth under the requirements of the state’s growth management act (1).

Water Quality: The goal of the water quality component is to ensure that the quality of our water is sufficient for current and future uses, including restoring and protecting water quality to meet the needs of salmon and shellfish (9)
contact recreational uses, cultural uses, protection of wildlife, providing affordable, safe domestic water supplies, and other beneficial uses. The initial objectives of the water quality management strategy will be to meet the water quality standards (3).

Instream Flow: The goal of the instream flow component is to supply water in sufficient quantities to restore salmon, steelhead, and trout populations to healthy and harvestable levels and improve habitats on which fish rely (9)2.

Fish Habitat: The goal of the fish habitat component is to protect or enhance fish habitat in the management area (1) and to restore salmon, steelhead, and trout populations to healthy and harvestable levels and improve habitats on which fish rely (9)2.

The approach used in this project will explicitly recognize that the four project components are interconnected to a high degree. Actions intended to affect change in one component may affect one or more of the components. The approach will capitalize on the interrelationships between the four identified project components by systematically integrating the data collection and analysis efforts. The effort will be coordinated with other resource management efforts such as land use/resource planning, flood management, Salmon Recovery Project (NEAT/2496), and a myriad of other similar efforts.

From the foregoing, is it not clear that the 2005 WMP was to provide a comprehensive framework and process, and that any other water resource programs and projects already enacted would either be integrated into or coordinated with the 2005 WMP, and that that decision was mandated by the high degree of interconnectedness of the four components of the WMP? From the foregoing, is it not extremely difficult to imagine how the intent of the 2005 WMP could be construed as anything other than a comprehensive framework and process within which all water resource management programs and projects within the delineated geographic boundaries henceforth would be conducted?

If, to some readers, it is not yet clear, then consider the following, from the same section of the same document:

2.4 Linkage/Coordination with Existing and Potential Programs
A critical and required element of the watershed planning effort is to effectively use limited resources. To preclude a “reinvention of the wheel” and to avoid potential conflicts, the project participants will review, build upon, and coordinate with historic and current data, regulations, and programs (1,2). Tracking and providing input to potential new local, state, tribal, or federal regulations and programs that could affect the planning effort will also occur.

Historic, current, and potential new data, regulations, and programs should be considered in order to (7):
· Coordinate data collection efforts – data collection is occurring through many different programs. The quality (accuracy) of these data need to be evaluated and this information should be used wherever possible prior to collecting additional data. When additional data are collected, efforts should be made to ensure that all parties needing the data are involved in the design of the data collection efforts and in ensuring that the quality is acceptable for all anticipated uses.
· Understand potential constraints on management options that may exist due to local, state, tribal, and federal requirements. The watershed plan developed under the Watershed Management Act does not supersede other federal, tribal, state, or local requirements. However, a well-done watershed plan can provide a framework for federal, tribal, state, or local agencies to modify existing or pending actions.
· Coordinate potential funding. In some cases one or more programs may need the same information that is needed for the watershed planning effort. Costs may be significantly reduced by adequate coordination with other programs.
· Consider appropriate implementation tools. In some cases, solutions may be best achieved by modifications to existing programs.
· Determine how to handle proposed new actions that could affect the watershed plan. During the course of the watershed planning effort new local, state, tribal, or federal actions may be proposed. A strategy for ensuring that these potential new actions are coordinated with the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Project.

Some examples of the many programs and activities that need to be considered in developing a coordination strategy include: County-wide Planning Policies; Comprehensive Plans; Coordinated Water System Plans; Drinking Water Source Protection Plans; Shoreline Programs; Shellfish Protection Plans; Storm Water Programs; Ground Water Management; education and technical assistance programs, Salmon Recovery Plans; Instream Flow regulations; Critical Area regulations, and Flood Hazard Management Strategies.

In addition to the comprehensive scope of the 2005 WMP, it provided a means for evaluating solutions to water resource challenges, as follows, again citing the March 200 Scope of Work:

2.2 Criteria for Evaluating Proposed Solutions
In order to achieve the above goals, the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Project will initially develop a watershed management plan that identifies specific actions to address the water resource problems identified. It is anticipated that during the plan development, specific alternatives and recommendations will be considered. Specific criteria will be developed to assist in selecting the best alternatives. The following criteria are provided by the Guidance Manual and should be considered when establishing the criteria:

Effectiveness Criteria
· Overall Effectiveness – Among the alternatives considered, which do the best job of addressing the issue at hand?
· Cost Effectiveness – Which alternatives deliver “the most bang for the buck”, even if they do not completely address the issues of interest?
· Flexibility Over Time –Which solutions offer the ability to be readily modified over time, in response to changing conditions and new information?
· Potential Side Effects – Do some of the potential solutions appear to create new problems, or exacerbate existing problems?
· Equity Considerations-What are the differing effects on various groups and economic activities in the Management Area?

Feasibility Criteria
· Legal Authority – Do the implementing organizations have the authority to implement the proposed solution? If not, can ordinances or rules be adopted to provide that authority?
· Approvals/permits – What approvals or permits will be required, especially by organizations not represented on the Planning Unit. Are those approvals or permits likely to be granted?
· Cost and Funding Sources –How expensive is each alternative, and who will bear the cost? Will funding sources be available, both in the short-term and long-term?
· Administration and Staffing –What organization will administer each solution? Do they have the capabilities to do the job? Will additional staff be required?
· Integration with Related Program –How will each solution fit in with related programs and plans?
· Acceptability – Are solutions acceptable to participants, elected officials, and key outside organizations (e.g., NMFS)?

In developing the County’s Benefit Evaluation criteria for the “investments” identified during the CWRIP process to date, was any of the foregoing taken into account? If so, how? If not, why not?

Methodological confusion regarding the “Triple bottom line:

During the March 2008 Planning Unit meeting the representative of the Environmental Caucus asked whether the “triple bottom line,” wherein environmental and social costs, as well as direct dollar costs, was used in evaluating the project costs during the CWRIP benefit ranking process, and if not, why not. The County representative answered that only dollar costs were used, without much elaboration. The issue deserves further clarification, elaboration, and exploration. A comprehensive benefits and costs evaluation should attempt to quantify the environmental, social, and economic benefits along with the environmental, social, and economic costs of each program or project.

Typically, a shortcut is used in which it is presumed that the social and environmental costs of such projects as improving instream flow are nil, and that thus a more commonly used one-dimensional cost/benefit ratio is appropriate. That assumption might be valid in many cases, but is it in all cases? Can environmental projects have environmental costs? If, at least conceptually, the answer is, potentially, yes, then a more comprehensive three-dimensional analysis of costs and benefits might be warranted.

Indeed, one of the issues with the “sticker shock” affect of early estimates of the dollar costs of the full implementation of the 2005 WMP was that the dollar benefits were not quantified at the same time.

Part of the 2005 WMP included a socio-economic impact study. A Summary of Economic Conditions, a baseline report, was produced by ECONorthwest in October 2002. Revisiting that effort might prove useful in taking further action for the CWRIP as well as the 2005 WMP.

The specific problems for the CWRIP that arise from failing to take the 2005 WMP properly into account

1. Failure to build on the many years of work that the WMP embodied. Many elements of the WMP, as cited elsewhere herein, would have proven useful to any kind of CWRIP effort.

2. Reinventing the wheel. We don’t need yet another public process to address water resource issues. We already have one. To start up another one certainly provokes at least this question: if the last public process spent many years and many millions and in the end produced nothing but several hundred pages of paper that now sits on a shelf, why should “the public” invest more time and money in yet another public process that is likely to come to no more in the end than the last one?

3. Contractual default: a fair reading of the MOA, the Joint Board Interlocal, and the WMP itself, suggest they are contracts to which the County is bound. The 2005 WMP certainly does not prohibit the County from engaging in a separate CWRIP, but it does set forth certain terms and conditions, and establish certain processes, by which such an effort should take place. This point is essentially a restatement of Points 1 and 2 from a legal perspective.

The fundamental flaw in the current approach to the CWRIP is that it appears to treat the 2005 WMP as if it were nothing more than yet another project on a par with all the others now lined up facing the County, each demanding its share of dollars and time, rather than what it was intended to be, a comprehensive framework within which and process by which water resource projects would be conceived, ranked, selected and implemented. As the County pointed out during its March 2008 presentation before the Planning Unit, during the process of developing the CWRIP staff discovered many instances in which the right hand not only didn’t know what the left foot was doing, but that in the worst of cases some offices were working at cross purposes with others. It is unfortunate that in developing the CWRIP the same problem was replicated in the case of the 2005 WMP. There can’t be more than one comprehensive water resource process that meets the face value definition of the term.


The CWRIP “investment” ranking system appears to have been ginned up from scratch with the help of a consultant. Thus, all the work the Planning Unit/Joint Board put into developing criteria for evaluating solutions appears to have been totally ignored.

Even if the County continues to view the 2005 WMP as nothing more than another project, there are good reasons to put it at the top of the implementation list. For example, the WMP was designed to address, simultaneously, at least three important driving forces of any water resource project, two of which were explicitly identified during the County’s presentation to the Planning Unit during the March 2008 meeting: regulatory compliance and contractual obligations. The third, not mentioned but ever present in potential, is litigation. The 2005 WMP certainly meets all three criteria. It helps meet regulatory mandates under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the GMA. It is a contract to which the County is signatory.

With respect to litigation, the 2005 WMP was designed not only in recognition of the prospect of a General Stream Adjudication, but as a means to facilitate the resolution thereof. One would think that the onset of a General Stream Adjudication would prompt the rise of the 2005 WMP to the top of the County’s list of water resource projects.

Apparently, also ignored was the WMP’s Natural Resource Policy Integration Program. To put teeth into Section 2.4, Linkage/Coordination with Existing and Potential Programs, of the March 2000 Scope of Work, the Joint Board/Planning Unit adopted as part of the 2005 WMP a Natural Resource Policy Integration Program, the purpose of which, as set forth in the document found as part of the 2005 WMP, is as follows:

Smarter natural resource policy through collaborative learning
The purpose of this Natural Resource Policy Integration (NRPI) program is to assure improved coordination among water-related natural resource plans and policies developed within the jurisdictions of WRIA 1. Coordination problems identified during the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Plan development include:
1) Policy gaps within individual planning documents and more often across the multiple plans produced by multiple jurisdictions within the WRIA 1;
2) Overlapping requirements among plans and policies; and
3) Inconsistencies and contradictory conclusions and requirements within and among plans and policies.

The purpose of including this program in the WRIA 1 watershed management plan is to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of developing, implementing and evaluating the natural resource plans and policies. This will be accomplished by creating a strong link between the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Plan (WMP, 2004) goals, objectives and recommendations and other water-related natural resource plans and policies within WRIA 1.

The NRPI program will serve all WRIA 1 cities, the County, all water districts, and PUD #1, as well as other interest groups and as such takes place WRIA – wide.

Key Issues Addressed

Water supply
Water quality
Instream flows
Fish habitat

The key issues addressed by the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Plan, 2004 include water quantity, water quality, instream flow and fish habitat problems found throughout WRIA 1. The details of these issues are described in Section 2 of the plan document. Each of these key issues can be directly or indirectly impacted by GMA related plans and policies and by water system, wastewater, and stormwater management plans and policies. Linking the planning processes for these programs with the goals and recommendations of this WRIA 1 Watershed Management Plan can assure that water related natural resource plans and policies are consistent with:
· Availability of water for human use and for fish habitat requirements;
· Identified needs for protecting beneficial uses of the surface and groundwaters of WRIA 1;
· Achievement of the recommended instream flows in WRIA 1, and
· Protection of important fish habitat. (The WRIA 1 WMP, 2003 will support and be consistent with the WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery Plan also scheduled for release in 2003).

Included among the goals and objectives of the NRIP we find:

Goal # 1 Improve efficiency and effectiveness of water-related natural resource planning and policy development, evaluation and implementation among WRIA 1 jurisdictions.

Objective # 1.1 Focus on GMA related and water system, wastewater, and stormwater management plans and policies in initial implementation phase of the WRIA 1 Watershed Management Plan (WRIA 1 WMP, 2004)

Objective # 1.2 Develop mechanism(s) to improve coordination among jurisdictions required to develop land use and water, wastewater, and stormwater management plans and among WRIA 1 Watershed Management Project implementing entities

Objective # 1.3 Manage the program, share resources and pool efforts among participating entities to provide ongoing support for implementation of the above coordination mechanism(s)

What relationship is there, if any, between the CWRIP and the NRPIP? It would seem incumbent upon the County, since it initiated the CWRIP, to provide an answer to that question that is satisfactory to at least the other members of the Joint Board, if not the Planning Unit.

Finally, Adaptive Management won’t work if it isn’t used: The WMP isn’t perfect as is, wasn’t meant to be. It is supposed to evolve by use, according to a process established in the March 2007 SOW Section 2.7. If the WMP is not used, it cannot grow, cannot adapt, and thus it will become irrelevant.

A positive resolution to the issues raised herein:

FIRST, No New Advisory Committees: DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL. Do not mislead the public by starting yet another public input process: stick with the one you established with the WMP; if necessary, modify the WMP structure and function document to provide linkage to the Flood Advisory Committee, others, as needed, or find some way to incorporate their input. After all, if money is an issue, won’t it cost more to start a whole new public process than it will to adjust those already established? Or is this yet another case of, “There’s never enough time and money to do it right the first time … but we’ll find the time and money to do it again when the first try misses the mark”?

Convene the Planning Unit governance and funding subcommittee forthwith, using the money you were going to waste on yet another public input process for the CWRIP, with the resolution of the issues raised herein at the top of the agenda of said subcommittee. The CWRIP should be integrated within the WMP process to the extent that there is now overlap between the two of them.

The subcommittee must also address the following:
1. honestly and squarely face the problems raised by the need to fund many water resource projects;
2. recognize that the implementation of the WMP does impose additional new costs, whatever they might amount to.
3. Re-initiate the exploration and documentation of the avoided costs – what has it/is it/will it cost NOT to follow through on the WMP? See the last section herein as one example.
4. Re-initiate the exploration for the most fair and effective means of raising the additional funds needed; options: single-entity (County, PUD, Port); multiple entity based upon per capita; etc. as well as exploring what vehicles are statutorily permitted to be used (special purpose districts, etc.).

What has Whatcom County at stake in the water rights crisis?

Whatcom County has no water rights, owns no water supplies, manages no water systems, and thus does not serve water to anyone. Nevertheless, it has a huge stake in the water rights crisis.

Why? Whatcom County is the receiver of last resort for any and all failed water systems within its jurisdiction, and thus faces many tens of millions of dollars of potential liability that it cannot escape – enough to make its past and any future planned expenditures on the 2005 WMP seem a pittance.

How? Enforcement of the water rights code, either by action of Ecology already authorized under state law, or by the effect of court decisions under a general stream adjudication, will cause all those systems without valid rights to water – and there are many of them within the County’s jurisdiction -- to fail, and then to present themselves to the County in receivership. Further, even systems that have valid water rights might find their water access curtailed because their rights are too junior to be satisfied, and thus, they too will fail, and the County will find them at their doorstep as well.

At the same time, all the homes, farms, and businesses those failed systems were serving will not have water, thus they will lose much of their assessed value, which will in turn reduce County property tax revenues even more than the current real estate implosion is already doing.

The end result could be a financial liability large enough that the County simply could not satisfy it, and thus would face the prospect of filing for protection under the federal bankruptcy code.

Knowing all this, those who created the 2005 WMP understood it as a means to avoid this catastrophe. It’s time for the County to quit looking this gift horse in the mouth, and remount it.

*The WRIA 1 Planning Unit interprets that char and shellfish are also included in this goal, that improvement to habitat will focus on degraded habitats, and the term “fish” refers back to the groups listed earlier. This language is meant to be consistent with the goals and mandates of the 2496 process and the objectives of the salmon co-managers. Salmon co-management is defined in The Puget sound Salmon Management Plan, implemented under a 1985 Court order under U.S. v. Washington 384 F. Supp. 312 (W.D. Wash. 1974). The co-managers of the fisheries resources are defined as the State of Washington, Western Washington Treaty Tribes, and the federal government. For WRIA 1, the salmon co-managers are the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nooksack Tribe, and Lummi Nation.

(Submitted to Whatcom County Council and members of the Planning Unit on April 9, 2008 by the Planning Unit Representative for the Whatcom Water Systems Caucus, whose members serve drinking water to more than 60,000 Whatcom County homes, farms and businesses).

WRIA 1 website:

Whatcom County Stormwater Division:

Joint Resolution between Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham:

Draft Long Term Program:

"Whiskey is for Drinking and Water is for Fighting" - Mark Twain

Mayorial Race in London is a contest of Personalities

Conservative Boris Johnson is running for Mayor of London, England. The outspoken conservative is currently leading liberal incumbent Ken Livingstone in the polls.

Johnson asks voters, "do you like buses?" as he leaps up on a wall in Richmond, England. "Isn't it great to see so many police here?"

No doubt about it. Johnson has energy and charisma and he's someone that Londoner's believe can deliver change - but will he actually deliver change? He's a small government conservative who wants to yank free bus passes from delinquent teenagers and has promised to get tough on street crime that has killed over 40 young people during the last 16 months.

Apparently, British voters have a history of not liking powerful politicians and Livingstone may be in danger of being removed from office because of his forceful personality. "It's not about policy," says Peter Kellner, director of YouGov, "Livingstone can still win if he gets back to a debate about what's best for London."
But if it's a referendum on Livingstone's character, he'll lose it."

All this, despite the fact that Livingstone has made London less congested, more harmonious and perhaps more financially successful during his 8 year tenure as Mayor. Livingstone has presided over London during a prosperous period where the skyline grew and the city was awarded the 2012 Olympic games. Livingstone is also well thought of for his leadership during the July 7th attacks.

Meanwhile, Johnson launches into yet another rant about scrapping government committees, street improvement projects and stopping people from drinking on subways in a "bad" way. Some experts claim that there are broader factors at play, Livingstone has labeled Johnson an eccentric with little administrative experience other than picking out a restaurant to take his staff to lunch.

But Johnson has a rhetoric that the public likes, experience, or no experience - and a backlog of "off the cuff" remarks that would make even the most tolerant voter cringe.

It will be interesting to see who comes out on top during the upcoming election. Livingstone, who has a proven track record, or Johnson, the challenger with a catalog of inflamatory rhetoric.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another Campaign Wrinkle in Indiana

Democrat James Mansfield refuses to give up his battle for mayor of Muncie, Indiana. Mansfield announced on April 23, 2008, that he would ask the Indiana Court of Appeals to review an election deadline he believes is unconstitutional.

At the heart of the dispute is Precinct 46 - Mansfield was the presumptive winner of the election until December 20th, when a re-count uncovered 19 flawed absentee ballots, the majority which contained Mansfield votes.

The recount resulted in Mansfield's challenger, Republican Sharon McShurley over taking Mansfield in the vote count. McShurley took office on January 1st, 2008. Mansfield's case is unusual, because he was originally certified the winner in a narrow election victory in a November 20th election board hearing. Even after the 14 day presumptive deadline had passed, Mansfield was still the presumptive winner of the General Election.

The absentee ballots in Precinct 46 were dismissed because they were not properly endorsed according to Indiana election law. It remains unknown who is responsible for the errors or who is at fault. Indiana election law requires a political appointee from each party, to mark absentee ballots with their initials before mailing them to voters. The ballots only had one inital, which belonged to a Democrat.

Mansfield had 14 days according to Indiana law to call for a special election.

Election Results:

Hatch Act Updates

Terre Haute Mayor Lawsuit:

Lawyers for Kevin Burke, former Terre Haute Mayor, have filed what could be the final legal brief in the legal battle for the Terre Haute City Hall.

We are only asking for the remedy that’s in the law,” Burke said. “We didn’t set up the remedy, the (Indiana) Legislature did.” The Vito County Circuit Court allowed Bennett to take office, “because the Hatch Act would no longer apply to Bennett when he was sworn in." (Bennett had resigned his position with the Hamilton Center the day before he was sworn into office).

In a brief filed on April 21st, Burke’s lawyers argue that Bennett was not eligible to run for office under the Hatch Act, and, therefore should not be mayor.

The brief states, “Bennett quitting his job the day before his scheduled inauguration would not change the fact that at the time Bennett was a candidate for office and at the time he was elected to that office, he was ineligible.”

Burke’s legal team has asked the Court of Appeals to expedite its decision. In regards to questions about unseating a sitting mayor, “It’s certainly not an easy thing,” Burke said.

Bennett’s March brief states, “the Vigo County Circuit Court found that Bennett’s role with the Hamilton Center Head Start Program was "essentially non-existent,” and an employee’s non-existent connection to a federally funded program should not serve as a basis to overthrow an Indiana General Election.”

Political e-mails trigger surge in Hatch Act Complaints

OSC recorded 299 complaints in 2006, 245 complaints in 2005, and 248 Hatch Act related complaints in 2004, an all time high for the independent investigative agency charged with enforcing the Hatch Act. The law bars federal employees and some state and local employees from engaging in any political activity during work hours, (which includes leaves of absence or vacation time), circulating petitions and campaigning. Sending a political e-mail, either on a personal or a work account is barred under the law. Blogging at work and sometimes at home is also barred under the law.

Past Hatch Act decisions send a clear message that "no political activity" means "no political activity," regardless of the specific technology used. (OSC Special Counsel Scott Bloch stated in a recent advisory).

Ward Morrow, an attorney for the American Federation of Government Employees is urging Congress to reform the Hatch Act. But House Oversight and Government Reform Federal Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis, said, "rather than change components of the law, more needs to be done to educate workers on the rules."

The First Permanent Residents of Point Roberts

The series of posts on Point Roberts has stimulated more interest than I initially thought it would.

Over the last five days, I've had a number of visitors from Universities, libraries and public schools from across the nation. So, I would like to finish this series with a short, biographical sketch of some of the first residents of Point Roberts; and try to provide researchers with an additional list of reference materials to assist them in their efforts to document the unique history of this isolated region of the United States. *Please note that I do not have a list of authors for all of the material that I found in my mother's papers.

I am fairly certain that Professor Richard E. Clark from Western Washington State College (now Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington) is the author of some of the "unsourced" historical material, as he and my mother had much correspondence regarding Point Roberts during the 1970's and early 1980's.

In the fall of 1980, My mother, (Lillian) and Professor Clark were co-hosts on a Canadian Television series titled, "Where Salish Coast Indians Once Lived." The program was comprised of two parts, 1) the Whalen farm site during Indian times and now; and, 2) Lily Point from Indian times to the present.

Pat Whalen presented background data on midden sites, archaelogical information, and the early white settlement. My mother addressed the historical highlights at Lily Point and my great grandfather's role in settling Point Roberts. She also presented background information on the scope of the cannery's work, and the role the cannery played in the community.

Professor Clark presented background data regarding Indian fishing, the Wadham's cannery and John Waller's pioneer trap industry prior to Wadhams development. They used excerpts from a taped interview of Arni Myrdal in the program. (This was a program that was designed as a television course for college credit - Delta Ten produced the series).

Some of the early pioneer character sketches are derived from excerpts found in "The Bellingham Herald's Chronological and Biographical History of Northwest Washington, Illustrated." A supplement to the Bellingham Herald; Bellingham Washington, 1910).

John Harris: the First Settler at Point Roberts is John Harris.

Harris had a curious history. He was raised among a tribe of Indians in New Mexico, having been taken captive when a boy. He subsequently served as a scout with General Scott’s army in the Indian and Mexican wars, and had many adventures and hair breadth escapes. Leading a most romantic life, he drifted up north about twenty five years ago and settled at Semiahmoo, but soon after removed to Point Roberts, where he was engaged in stock raising. He had two daughters by an Indian wife, one of whom is married to James Atkinson, also of Point Roberts. He was best known as “Long-haired Harris.” (Lottie Roeder Roth, ed., "History of Whatcom County," Vol. I. pg. 242).

Among the boundary commission was John Harris who was cook for Lieut. Park, and who after the commission had finished its work here took up what is now known as the Elwood place, between California and Dakota Creeks. He settled there some time early in the 1860’s, and a few years ago was murdered on Point Roberts by a Greek brigand.” (“As They Found It” The Blaine Journal, December 12, 1889).

Indian Intimidation at Point Roberts – Mr. John Harris was in town last Friday, and complained of the threatening attitude of certain Indians from beyond the British line who came to the above named Point and ordered him off the fishing ground, stating that they were sent there by the agent and representing themselves as belonging to the United States Reservation. Mr. Harris was too sharp for them, however, and told them they had no rights there that he was bound to respect and refused to leave; that they didn’t belong to the reservation, and even if they did the place was outside the limits. This made the Indians very insolent, and nothing but the coolness of Mr. Harris, and the close proximity of his trusty rifles, prevented a collision with serious results. It is hoped that Mr. McGlynn, the agent, will guard against a repetition of these proceedings.” (The Bellingham Bay Mail, July 12, 1873).

(John Harris) has been located (at Point Roberts) for years, and owns a large heard of cattle…” (The Bellingham Bay Mail, July 12, 1873).

Harris and Waller were the only settlers at Point Roberts; Harris, who had been engaged in the cattle business for a number of years, and Waller, a newcomer, engaged in fishing.” (Lottie Roeder Roth, ed., "History of Whatcom County," Vol. I, pg. 215).

"As a rule the rural districts were well-behaved and orderly, and crime was very exceptional. The whole northern part of the county, therefore, was greatly stirred by the report that John Harris, the pioneer of Point Roberts, had been murdered. The account of his tragedy, given by The LaConner Mail, in February 1883, is as follows: “For some months past a feud had existed between John Harris and Charles Mitchell at Point Roberts. This culminated a few days ago in an altercation in which Harris lost his life. Harris, as the story goes, was out with a shotgun when he met Mitchell; hot words ensued, Harris attempted to shoot Mitchell, who was too active for the old man. The gun changed hands and Mitchell beat Harris almost to death with it. Harris’s daughter and son in law came on the scene, drove Mitchell off and took Harris home, but he died soon after. Mitchell was taken before a Justice of the Peace at Semiahmoo and was acquitted on the plea of self-defense.” (Lottie Roeder Roth, ed., "History of Whatcom County," Vol. 1, pg. 242).

John and Kate Waller

John Waller had a plan: "Mr. Waller, who is a very intelligent and enterprising citizen of advanced years and experience, informed us tha a dozen families could make comfortable homes and farms on the Point if the Government would throw open the land to settlement, and that he himself would build a wharf and make other extensive improvements there if the government would guarantee him from loss by patenting the land." (The Bellingham Bay Mail, April 6, 1878, pg. 3).

"An echo of the John Waller tragedy came when Gus Julian, while fishing off Chuckanut Bay, in June of 1886, found the body of John Waller, who was drowned there September 18, 1885. John Waller was the pioneer fisherman of Point Roberts and had the first fish trap at that Point, which for many years had been known as one of the best fishing points on Puget Sound. It is related that Captain Henry Roeder, who had had much experience in trap-fishing on Lake Erie and at Sacramento instructed Mr. Waller as to the construction of this trap. At first the trap was a failure as the leads were not properly set against the tide. Captain Roeder corrected this for Mr. Waller and the trap was filled almost to bursting. Later, this trap location was sold for $25,000, an enormous price for that time, but a most profitable investment for the purchasers, as fish to the value of many hundreds of thousands of dollars have been taken there." (Lottie Roeder Roth, ed., "History of Whatcom County," Vol. I, pg. 431).

"In 1890, by order of the Interior Department, the government reserve, with the exception of 264 acres set apart for lighthouse purposes, was vacated, and an order made that the land should be sold in 40 acre tracts, squatters being given the prior right of purchase. This order resulted in a stampede of adventurers from the British side who flocked to the point for the purpose of securing a forty on which to speculate. The order of vacation however, provided that the settlers who had located there prior to January 1, 1884, should be permitted to perfect title under the homestead laws. Mrs. Waller and Horace Brewster, having been actual settlers on the Point at and prior to the date mentioned. For good and sufficient reasons, as above suggested, the department refused to carry out the original plans of selling in forty acre tracts, which resulted in an abandonment of the point by the adventurers and speculators sent in for that purpose, and in their stead there are now at the point seventeen actual bona fide settlers, all but four of whom are heads of families. As an evidence of their honest intention to make permanent homes at that place, it may be cited that they have already organized a school district with an enrollment of 27, and one month's school has been maintained Mr. T.J. Foley, formerly of this city, now one of the actual settlers at the point, having conducted the school without remuneration in order that the district might regularly organize. The settlers, besides building a school house and public roads, are making improvements on their claims, putting out orchards, erecting buildings, etc., and are now anxiously awaiting an order from the land department at Washington permitting them to file homesteads upon their respective locations.

...There is no contest as among individuals -- all the settlers having recently met at Mr. Foley's place and agreed upon boundary lines and sub-divisions. The land in question is of excellent quality for fruit growing and agricultural purposes, and will make pleasant homes for the occupants. A petition has been forwarded to the department asking for the establishment of a mail route from Blaine to Point Roberts. At present, the settlers receive their mail by private carriers from Blaine. That there is opposition to the opening of the reservation to settlers under the homestead act has become apparent, and has given the settlers no small amount of anxiety." (The Bellingham Bay Evening Express, Vol. 5, No. 6, April 7, 1893, pg. 1).

E.A. Wadhams and A.E. Wadhams:

Edmund Abraham Wadhams, the father of Arthur E., was born at Wadhams Mills, New York, on March 28, 1833, and was decended from an old English family of Revolutionary fame. Crossing the plains to California in 1849, he thence went to Cariboo, British Columbia, following the stampede to the new gold fields.

In 1893, he went to Point Roberts, where he erected a cannery, but in the fall of that year, sold his interests to the Alaska Packers' Association and returned to British Columbia, there erecting a cannery at River's Inlet and conducting the same until his life's labors were ended in death on the 17th of January, 1885.

Arthur Edgar Wadhams received his education in the public schools of Victoria and New Westminister, and at Badgley College in Victoria. He then entered employment at his father's cannery at Point Roberts and remained as the manager after his father sold the cannery to the Alaska Packers Association.(A History of the Puget Sound Country, Vol. II, New York: Lewis Pub. Co., 1903, pg. 303-304).

Another ex-cariboo miner, whose name is stamped indelibly on the coast through canning was E.A. Wadhams. Once, while mushing out from the Cariboo along a winding trail in the Fraser Canyon, he was buried alive under an avalanche. For hours his friends worked in vain to find him and were at the point of giving up. Wadham, pinned below the surface with a small air pocket could hear them giving him up for lost, then his wife's pleading with them to continue digging, until at last he was hauled out of the snow stiff with cold and badly shaken but otherwise unharmed. (Hugh W. McKervill, "The Salmon People" Sidney, B.C., Canada: Gray's Publishing: Ltd., 1967, pg. 48).

"Wadham's on Trial: E.A. Wadham appeared before Judge Hardin this morning to answer the charge of using a pound trap for fishing without a license. The defense urged that the waters around Point Roberts were not a part of Puget Sound but of the Gulf of Georgia and the statute requires a license for the Columbia River and Puget Sound Waters only. Mr. Hardin has the case under consideration and will render his decision this evening. " Later, the judge acquitted Wadhams. ("The Bellingham Bay Express," July 17, 1893, pg. 1).

The Wadham's Case

"The Wadhams case was again argued in the superior court this morning. The rival cannery men wish to have the case brought before the supreme court, and, if there bond is acceptable to the judge, that is where it will be settled." (The Bellingham Bay Express," July 17, 1893, Pg. 1).

Fish Case Decided

"Judge Winn decided this noon that Wadhams had a right to set as many traps as he liked, so long as he did not go within 1,500 feet of the traps of the other cannery men. This is all that Wadhams asked. This gives the cannery men a chance to catch all the fish they want, and there is enough for all of them." (The Bellingham Bay Express, July 26, 1893, pg. 1).

Point Roberts Fish

"And still there is trouble among the cannery men at Blaine. Now comes Joseph Goodfellow and wants A.E. Wadhams to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court. He claims Wadhams is building or operating traps within 1,500 feet of those other canners. The case will be heard August 12." The Bellingham Bay Express, August 4, 1893, pg. 1).

Additional Information can be found in the publications listed below:

Richard E. Clark, "Social Change in an American Enclave Community." A 117 page socio-historical document kept in Wilson Library, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225.

Richard E. Clark, " An American Enclave Community and the Great Change." An M.A. Thesis in sociology, available at WWU.

R.C. Mayne, "Four Years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island." London: John Murray, Albermarle Street, 1862, pg. 52. 81.

Lottie Roeder Roth (ed.) "History of Whatcom County," Vol. I. (Chicago and Seattle: Pioneer Historical Pub. Co., 1926, pg. 995. 801, 242, 797, 348, 662, 663.

Hunter Miller, "San Juan Archipelago." Bellow Falls, Vermont: Windham Press, 1943, pg. 42, 43.

Arni S. Myrdal, "Recollections." This historical sketch appeared in a weekly Icelandic newspaper published in Winnipeg, Manitoba: Heimskringla, Vol. LXVIII, December 23, 30, 1953 and January 6, 1954.

Ed. C. Ellet, "Report To the U.S. Department of the Interior, General Land Office, December 28, 1904." This document is in the files of the Department and is available from Washington D.C., for a fee.

Frances Herring, "Among the People of British Columbia, Red, White, Yellow, and Brown." London: T. Fisher Unwin, Paternoster Square, 1903, pg. 231 and the whole chapter affilated with that page.

There are additional resources listed in Richard E Clark's paper, "Social Change in an American Enclave Community." Unfortunately, it will be difficult to get a look at this publication unless you are actually in the area.

The Whatcom County Courthouse has reams of documents that have not been adequately researched as does the Whatcom Museum. There is probably much undiscovered material in Seattle as well.

Thanks for your interest - I enjoyed putting this series together.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jess -- Summer of 1895

All those who knew Jess, save my brother John, are now dead and buried. It is through the urging of my granddaughter, that I am jotting down a few items concerning a wonderful dog.

I selected Jess from a litter of six when she was seven weeks old. A week later I brought her home. Her mother was a spaniel, her male parent a collie. As she grew up she took more and more like her sire in appearance, but more docile, and excelled him in intelligence and aptitude, although he was a very apt dog himself.

We had then a young tri-colored she cat, which we named Tricol. Jess and Tricol soon became very good friends. They played together and slept in the same place and were constant companions. In this way they passed their first fall and winter.

One fine day, in the early summer of 1895, my wife and I set our canoe afloat. Jess and Tricol followed us to the beach. As we started to paddle away, Jess plunged into the water and followed us. Tricol made several attempts to follow her companion, but like all cats, hated to get herself wet, so she quickly decided to keep abreast of us by running along the water's edge. When we beached our canoe, about an hour later, she was there to meet us.

Not long after this, on a warm, sunny day, we went boating again, and of course the playmates followed us to the water's edge as we launched the canoe for the second time that summer. As before, Jess leapt into the water and followed close astern. This time, Tricol, without hesitating, boldly followed her companion. We immediately slowed to a mere crawl, in order to see how things were going to fare with Tricol. Although Tricol fell somewhat behind, she kept right on swimming. And thus it happened time and time again while Tricol lived. Tricol is the only cat that I have known to take voluntarily to the water; and the strangest thing of all, she seemed to enjoy it immensely.

I began training Jess when she was very young. I never whipped her nor scolded, for she was very high strung. She obeyed well when she understood what it was that one wished her to do. About the first important task I taught her to perform, was to carry a small empty milk can to my parent's home.

In a short while, Jess became a most reliable errand runner. I frequently sent her to the Cannery, where I worked, to my home or to mother's home, with an order for eggs or butter. I would write up the order or message on a piece of paper, fold it up, place it in a partly split end of a small stick and then give it to Jess. If the missive was to be delivered to mother, I would say, as I gave Jess the stick, "Go over," if to my wife, the words would be, "Go home." She never failed to deliver the message to the right place. Once I sent her with an order for eggs. When she was about half way up the two hundred and fifty foot bluff, two friends of mine, as they were starting down the bluff, happened to see Jess coming with the message, (they knew about her prowness), so they made a pretense to take it away from her, to see what would happen, but she gave them the slip; so adroitly and swiftly was it done, that they were overwhelmed with amazement. They told me about the incident a few minutes after they arrived at the Cannery.

I often had Jess with me when I worked at the Cannery. She would always lie under my work bench, and therefore bothered no one. One day I had to go out among the fish traps to direct the placing of watchman's houses on the pot of each trap. The skipper, assigned to take me out to the traps, was a deep sea captain, Oliver by name, rather harsh in manner, but none the less a very fine man. When everything was ready, I went aboard. The tide was extemely low (21 feet from the wharf to the deck of the boat). On the deck were chains, coils of rope, a big anchor, gypsy and a steam winch; there was hardly standing room in front of the pilot house. I had forgotten to tell Jess to go home when I boarded the boat. So, just as I was getting into the pilot house, Jess alighted in the only vacant space on the foredeck, barely large enough to recieve her. The deckhand, no friend of dogs, threatened to throw her overboard. Just at that moment, Captain Oliver exclaimed, "My God! not in all my born days have I ever seen anything that equals this. Johnson, don't you touch that wonderful dog."

I told the captain that I could easily send the dog home. "No, he said, "the dog risked his life to be with you; so here he stays till we are through; bring him into the pilot house."

When I first started teaching Jess tricks, she failed to understand what I wished for her to do. She was then about eight months old. I placed a small block of wood on her nose and held it there lightly while I counted up to three, then made her toss it up as I said, "Catch" but the block fell to the ground. I repeated the procedure several times with no better success. I could plainly see that she was puzzled. She already was a superb retriever. I wound up a small ball of yarn. I threw the ball several times, and she would joyfully retrieve it. Then, as I said "catch" I tossed the ball straight to her,, but she would always grab it as it struck the ground. Then I attached a string to the ball, directed her to sit down, and swung it slowly in her direction, saying “Catch” in a low voice, so as not to get her excited. I continued this playfully for a moment with a slow, rhythmic movement, then she suddenly opened her mouth and grabbed the swinging ball. I petted and made much of her and treated her to a lump of sugar, to show how pleased I was with her performance. It was easily seen that she was pleased herself. When she had repeated the act as often as I wished, I removed the string from the ball and tossed it toward her; she caught it like a veteran and was eager for a repetition. Next, I contrived to have her toss the ball from her nose with my assistance. In a trice, she mastered that trick too. Finally, I took from my pocket a cube of sugar and balanced it carefully on her nose, then playfully sung out, “one, two three, catch.” She adroitly flipped the cube and caught it. Finally, after several repetitions, I have the order “eat” and she immediately started to crunch the cube of sugar; having learned the meaning of that order. After this, I encountered no difficulties in teaching Jess any trick or task. All I had to do was to show her the mode of procedure and she would immediately comprehend, as she possessed a tenacious memory.

Jess was an excellent bird dog. She could be directed in the field or in the water just by hand signals. She could also handle cattle effectively. When she was about a year old, I sent her to drive some stray cattle away. One of the creatures was ornery, so Jess snapped at it’s right hind foot; being her first encounter with cattle, she wasn’t aware of the danger that she was running in to; the kick caught her squarely on the head and all but knocked her out. But never again, she became an expert dogger.

For a year and a half we were obliged to go once a week to Ladner’s landing for our mail. Every third week, from the end of September to the first of April it was my turn to go. Sometimes, partly for diversion and at the same time for the purpose of training Jess, I would pick up an object and show her, then lay it on the ground, stump or a fallen tree. When I first tried the experiment, I walked about a mile before I sent her back for the object by saying “Jess, go fetch.” A few minutes later, she was back with the article. Next trial, her round trip was over six miles. The object was a fir cone.

An incident of this nature took place some months later. Bent Sivertz (Bent came with us from Victoria, B.C. when we moved to Point Roberts in 1894) and I had to go to Ladner’s Landing, Bent on business, I for the mail. None of the settlers owned a horse at that time; so going from one place to another was invariably traveled on foot. On our way, Jess would often strike a scent of a bird or a rabbit, and would have chased them, goodness knows where to, had I not ordered her to “heel.” Bent marveled at how well Jess minded.

We didn’t stay in the village any longer than we actually had to, because the round trip was a whole day’s journey on foot. In the outskirts of the town we came upon a pheasant. As Jess started pursuit, I ordered her to “heel” she obeyed at once. “Under such circumstances,” Bent remarked, “not one dog in a thousand would have obeyed the “heel” order, so mildly given, as this one did.” I told Bent that Jess would obey any order instantly if she understood the meaning of the order. We stood near a fence that had recently been repaired. Close by, I saw a piece of wood, about three inches long, 1 ½ inches wide by ¼ o an inch thick, which I picked up and showed Jess just before laying it down in an inconspicuous place by the fence. Jess was all attention. Then we continued onwards. When we were close to Whalen’s place, about ten miles from the aforementioned spot, I said to Jess, “go fetch.” Off she dashed like a streak of lightening. We were now about two and a half miles from Bent’s house and three and a quarter miles from mine. Just as we were reaching Bent’s gate, Jess returned with the piece of wood left by the fence at the southern outskirts of Ladner’s Landing.

This performance was such a surprise to Bent, that he was rendered speechless for a moment. Looking at Jess and the piece of wood as he remarked, “this is the most remarkable performance I have ever witnessed; not only bringing what she was sent for, but the great distance covered while we, although leisurely, walked approximately two and a half miles; it’s amazing.”

After Jess had mastered the art of catching a ball, tossing up light objects with her nose, and her mouth – which she could do without any assistance – and catch them every time, toting a stick of wood for the stove and running errands, she would often come to me, when my work at the cannery for the season was over, and fairly beg me to perform something new. She, of course, couldn’t speak, but would playfully come and touch my hand with her ice cold nose, then scamper off a few feet, wheel around and come back again.

The first time she did this I thought she had spotted a grouse and wanted me to come bag it; but thinking back, I recalled that when this happened to be her intention, she would bound into the forest, tree the bird and start barking, which she would keep up until I came. But this time she apparently just wanted to play. I took my cap off and laid it on a huge granite rock that stood a short distance west of the house. “Jess,” I said, “fetch my cap.” At once she understood and brought the cap to me, beaming with joy. Then, I put the cap in several different places with like results. Then, dismissing Jess with a pat and a praise, I went into my workshop to complete a partially finished project. After quite some time, I went out, leaving the door a jar. In her house, Jess was slumbering away. When I called her, she came scudding out with an expectant look. “Jess,” I said, “where is my cap?” She glanced up at my bare head, then looked towards the big rock and the other places she had seen me put it before. Then she looked around, in various directions with an anxious eye. Finally, she sidled into the workshop and quickly brought the cap with a very satisfied look for she could see how pleased I was. I then treated her to a bowl of milk and some cookies.

In playing this game I always placed the cap in such a way that the visor at least could be plainly seen, but would often be out of her reach. When this happened to be the case, she would omit a subdued yelp and point or jump toward it. In this quest she took more pride than in any other diversion.

I would often have her perform for friends, which she was always delighted to do. When I built our little house, in the fall of 1894, we had very little money, so the house had to be constructed as cheaply as possible. The main house was a 12’ by 24’ foot structure with a lean-to 10’ by 14’ kitchen. The main building was divided into two rooms, a living room and a bedchamber. The bedroom had a nine foot ceiling, while the living room’s overhead interior was the full height from the floor to the peak of the rafters. This provided a space above the bedroom ceiling with an open attic that formed a huge shelf, which, with the aid of a step ladder was sometimes used as such.

I had never used this open attic as a hiding place for my cap or anything else for Jess to ferret out. One day, several friends were enjoying watching Jess doing some of her stunts. As a diversion, I had her find my cap. I told the visitors that I was going to hide an article in a place, which I had never before used for this purpose. Taking one of my friends with me, as an observer, I entered the living room, leaving the others outside with Jess.
From a step ladder I placed my cap on the edge of the attic floor, with only half of the visor exposed to view. When we came out again, the others were amusing themselves by having Jess flipping up and catching a small flat stone, expertly performed. “Jess,” I said, “where is my cap?” She looked at me and saw that I was bareheaded. She looked in likely places in the yard for a short while, then went to the kitchen door and indicated that she wanted to get in. I opened the door. She looked in every nook in the kitchen. Next, she darted into the living room, looking everywhere; then round bout the bedroom. Finding no hint so far, she went out again, this time to the workshop. After futile efforts there, she ran back into the house again. This time we didn’t follow Jess, but left her to herself. In an incredibly short time we heard that familiar subdued yelp. When we came in she was looking at the cap’s visor, then made several quick, short leaps towards it, pointing out to us where the cap was located.

I shall never forget the overpowering surprise of my friends, nor their lavish praises, which Jess seemed to understand and delightedly appreciate.

The first winter we were in Point Roberts I met a fisherman, who went by the name of Sardine Pete, a native of Sweden. He fished in various places during summertime, but wintered here. The only thing Pete had in his keeping was a small, female bulldog, which he called Nell. Nell was an excellent water dog. When a school of salmon surfaced close by, Pete would, on some occasions, let Nell jump over the side of the boat. She would then single out a fish and suddenly seize it, bringing it to the side of the boat where Pete could gaff and land it. She was also famous for retrieving ducks and Brants – which were plentiful here at that time – even in a roaring sea.
In the fall of 1896, Sardine Pete decided to go back to his native country for good. Not being able to take Nell along, he tearfully begged me to adopt her, for he said he knew I would treat her well. So out of pity, I took Nell off his hands.

At this juncture, Jess was two years old. As soon as Pete was gone and Nell ensconsed in her house, Jess started to observe the newcomer from a safe distance; she had already determined that Nell, bulldog like, had no liking for her. Although Nell displayed spitefulness towards strange dogs, she was very meek and gentle when it came to human beings. Nell was getting old and hard of hearing and at times refused to eat for days. Now and then, to whet her appetite, I would concoct a toothsome evening feed. But still, in her extreme spells, she was in no hurry to help herself, even to such a dish.

Jess was endowed with an acute sense of smell, while Nell was extremely deficient in that respect, she proved useless for tracking birds or other small game. When someone was approaching, it was invariably Jess who would catch the scent and dash off into the forest barking impetuously, for she rarely knew from what direction the visitor was coming. In a short time, Jess appeared to be aware of Nell’s weakness and began to make use of it.

Early in the summer of 1897 my wife was obliged to go to Victoria, B.C., and stay there for quite sometime. So it fell entirely upon me to take care of both the dogs. I’d feed them early in the morning before going to work, and again in the evening when I came back from the cannery.
Both dogs remained faithfully at home without being tied.

Once again Nell was having a spell of indifference to food of any sort. One evening, when I got home from work, I saw that she had not touched her breakfast. She was lying with her head on her feet in the doorway of her house, in order to prevent Jess from stealing her portion of food. On this evening, I came home unusually late. The manager was explaining to me at length the project I was to start the following day. Jess was getting extremely impatient, because of her hunger, but Nell had not taken a bite of the morning’s ration. I quickly prepared an appetizing repast for Nell, and because of the lateness of the day, gave Jess a share of the same preparation. I sat down on the doorstep to watch the two dogs. When Jess was through gobbling up her dinner, she cast a glance at Nell, who appeared to be sleeping soundly; so unhesitatingly, she darted over to Nell’s dish, to consume it’s contents.

But Jess had no sooner reached the dish when Nell sprang out of her house and bit Jess unmercifully. Nell returned to her house without eating her food. Jess ran off a short distance and sat down deep in thought. Then, without warning, she began to bark excitedly and bound off in the direction of the woods. Instantly, Nell was on her feet and dashed after Jess. No sooner had Nell whizzed by than Jess turned abruptly back and headed straight for Nell’s dish of food and began gobbling as fast as she could, knowing from past experience that Nell would be back in a short time. At this juncture, I could not find it in my heart to interfere. Only by reason of her superior intelligence had she succeeded in acquiring her objective.

Excerpt from Arni S. Myrdal's journals