In the August issue of Whatcom Watch, a comment letter (page 12) generated by Whatcom County Water District 10, along with a response from the Department of Ecology (page 13) regarding the proposed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study of Lake Whatcom were reproduced, as well as a commentary by Tim Paxton (page 1).
In that commentary, Tim expressed the utter bewilderment I think many of us felt that a public utility which is responsible for not only the health and safety of its customers, but also for working in concert with other jurisdictions to protect its water supply source, would try to derail a well-intentioned study which will likely result in improved water quality in this reservoir.
As a Water District 10 patron myself, I was especially incensed that the fees I am paying were being used in part to fight the cleanup of the lake from which I draw my water. However, I was hopeful that Water District 10 Board President Blair Ford was just a loose cannon speaking, and he would be reined in when the other commissioners realized what he was doing.
Second Letter Asks Governor to Intervene
You can only imagine my outrage when I read the letter which is reproduced on page 9, sent by Water District 10 to Governor Gary Locke in an attempt to go over the head of Ecology and stop the TMDL study of Lake Whatcom. This letter, along with the one which preceded it, prompts two serious and puzzling questions to be asked of Water District 10:
1. Given the districts statutory duties, is there a reason for the district to fight the TMDL study? An even more basic question would be whether the district is allowed to fight the TMDL study?
2. If the district has valid reasons for fighting the study, do the reasons given by the district for invalidating the TMDL study hold water?
Utility Must Act in Publics Best Interest
I am sure the answer to the first question is resoundingly no. The formation and operation of water and sewer districts, such as Water District 10, is governed by Title 57 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). RCW 57.05.005 dictates that the powers of the district shall include: where a district contains within its borders, abuts, or is located adjacent to any lake, stream, ground water as defined by RCW 90.44.035, or other waterway within the state of Washington, to provide for the reduction, minimization, or elimination of pollutants from those waters in accordance with the districts comprehensive plan.
RCW 57.16.010 further dictates that a public utility district adopt a general comprehensive plan (as referenced in RCW 57.05.005). Water District 10 adopted its original comprehensive water and sewer plan in 1991. This plan has been amended and updated three times since then: in 1995, 1996, and most recently in September of this year (2001).
Water District 10 Formerly Committed to Lake Protection
The original comprehensive plan outlines four tenets of resource protection, which are reproduced below:
1. The district, in concert with other jurisdictions, will work to protect the water supply resource base of Lake Whatcom.
2. The district will recognize the natural limitations of the Lake Whatcom watershed when making decisions that pertain to the provision of services. These limitations include slope, permeability, soil type, vegetation, and erosion.
3. The district cannot restrict access to the Lake Whatcom watershed. Therefore, the district shall encourage land uses that tend to benefit water quality by increasing infiltration and slowing run-off.
4. The district shall (to the best of its ability and consistent with its legal authority) prevent health and safety problems.
These tenets are similar to those which appear in the 1992 Lake Whatcom Joint Resolution, of which Water District 10 is a co-signer. Clearly, fighting the TMDL study goes against each and every one of these principles, which the district is bound to live by.
Data Show Problems Exist
Even if the answer to the first question (on front page) were yes, I think the answer to the second question is clearly no. The district attempts to refute one of the primary reasons for the TMDL study, that of low oxygen content in basins one and two, by hiring (at rate payer expense) consultants to re-interpret data to the districts liking that were acquired by others.
These data on oxygen levels throughout the lake were acquired by Professor Robin Matthews group at Western Washington University. They have been examined by Professor Matthews, as well as Department of Ecology and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists.
Lake Whatcom Is Dying
The conclusions of all are the same: low oxygen conditions are expanding and moving up the water column. In other words, the lake is dying. To quote the publicly available Lake Whatcom Monitoring Project 1999/2000 Final Report (Matthews, et al 2001):
Despite relatively cool temperatures and late stratification, Sites 1 and 2 developed severe hypolimnetic* oxygen deficits by mid-summer. As in previous years, Pearsons correlation analyses of dissolved oxygen vs. year continued to show statistically significant reductions in hypolimnetic oxygen levels from June through September. No significant correlations were found for June through September hypolimnetic* temperature data or for lake level vs. hypolimnetic oxygen.
Although Site 1 continued to develop the earliest and most prolonged period of anoxia in the lake, Site 2 had higher hypolimnetic* concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and iron, and greater denitrification (bacterial conversion of nitrate to N in low oxygen environments), all of which suggest that the anoxic conditions at Site 2 were at least as severe as at Site 1
Historic data show that the bottom of basin one has experienced low oxygen conditions for at least 30 years. However, there is evidence that the oxygen conditions in the hypolimnion at Site 1 have deteriorated since 1988 Since 1994, this depth has moved several meters closer to the surface. There was no similar pattern in the early September temperature data
Pearsons correlation analysis of dissolved oxygen vs. year confirmed that there were statistically significant reductions in oxygen levels at all even depths =12 m from June through September .
*Site 1 is in basin one near Silver Beach, and Site 2 is in basin two between Strawberry Point and the foot of Cable Street.
Water District 10 Recklessly Endangers Residents
While I find this anti-TMDL campaign of Water District 10 extremely unpalatable, there are several statements in the districts letter to the governor which are particularly galling. For example, after reading this letter how many people actually believe that Water District 10 enjoys a reputation for taking actions to help protect Lake Whatcom as a raw water supply source?
Also in the letter to the governor, the district likens the stand taken by Department of Ecology in its TMDL listing to that of the Department of Ecology giving a ticket to a car accelerating down the highway but that has not yet exceeded the speed limit.
I thoroughly disagree with that analogy and would instead put forth the following analogy for the behavior of Water District 10: A Water District 10 truck is weaving wildly across the road apparently driven by an inebriated commissioner, and appears certain to cause disaster. Wouldnt it be prudent to stop it before disaster actually occurs?
WHATCOM COUNTY WATER DISTRICT 10
1010 LAKEVIEW STREET
BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON 98226
(360) 734-9224 FAX 738-8250
September 17, 2001
The Honorable Gary Locke
Governor, State of Washington
P0 Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504
Subject: Irregularities in Ecologys Proposed Waterbodies Cleanup (aka TMDL) Plan
Dear Governor Locke:
The five Commissioners of this Water and Sewer District are extremely concerned that the Washington State Department of Ecology is inappropriately manipulating the environmental process, inconsistently applying State water quality standards and the Federal Clean Water Act, and not responding to critical technical issues that have been raised about Lake Whatcom.
In a May 2001 FOCUS sheet (enclosure (1)), Ecology requested comments on their prioritization list for waterbody clean-up plans. We took advantage of this opportunity to comment (enclosure (2)) due to the many technical concerns we had over inclusion of Lake Whatcom in the Environmental Protection Agencys list of impaired waterways for perceived dissolved oxygen problems. Our letter enclosed specific technical evidence from two scientific teams (Adolfson Associates, Inc and Entranco, lnc) that there has been no change in oxygen concentrations in the Lake. Since then, a Utah State University (USU) scientific team performing regional Watershed Planning studies has also drawn similar conclusions (enclosure (3)). The work done by Entranco and USU was reviewed by scientists and planners in, and outside of, our community. The information on dissolved oxygen was closely scrutinized due to the unfortunate listing by Ecology. Yet, even with this high level of scrutiny and concern, the analysts interpretations that oxygen conditions had not changed still prevailed.
Ecologys response to the technical concerns expressed in our letter can be summarized by the following quotes from their June 29, 2001 letter (enclosure (4)):
...The state water quality standard for DOE is no measurable decrease from natural conditions. This criterion is set in consideration of the sensitivity of lakes to nutrient inputs .
Ecology and EPA concur with the report by Greg Pelletier of Ecology that demonstrates a measurable decrease in dissolved oxygen, using analytical tools appropriate for Lake Whatcom .
The nature of Ecologys response is evidence in itself that the people making these decisions do not yet understand either the specifics of their agencys work, or the critical technical concerns that have been raised about this issue. Greg Pelletier was NOT able to demonstrate a measurable decrease in dissolved oxygen. What he tried to demonstrate was an increase in the depletion rate for oxygen. Thus, even if one agreed with his interpretation, he still would not have demonstrated a water quality violation. The following analogy is provided to aid with understanding the difference between depletion rate and dissolved oxygen concentrations:
A car is accelerating down the highway. If it continues to accelerate, it will eventually exceed the speed limit. However, unless it does, no violation has occurred and no speeding ticket can be issued. In the case of Lake Whatcom dissolved oxygen concentrations, even Greg Pelletier has agreed that there is no measurable decrease in dissolved oxygen concentrations. Thus, no violation to State Standards has occurred. The controversial interpretations we are referring to are based on whether or not the data indicate there is evidence of acceleration.
- Ecology used a non-standard, unreliable, analytical tool for Lake Whatcom, and by modifying the way it was applied, demonstrated a weak statistical trend in oxygen consumption rates in one of three lake basins.
- At least five other scientists used the same analytical tool to assess the lake data, but applied it following the standard methodology. They determined that no trend exists in either oxygen consumption rates or concentrations.
- Ecology made no attempt to justify their use of this tool. Ecologys response letter simply states that the tool is appropriate for Lake Whatcom. Since this statement is in conflict with the general understanding in the field of limnology, we believe more explanation and a more in depth review is warranted. This is especially true given the consensus of opinion against Ecologys findings.
- No attempt has been made by Ecology to update their assessment with the three additional years of data available. Given the level of controversy that has surrounded this listing, we find this surprising.
Ecologys letter also indicates that there are other issues in Lake Whatcom that they are hoping will lead to further 303(d) listings for the lake, as if this justifies the dissolved oxygen listing. First, the possibility of these other unrelated listings does not provide a rationale for the dissolved oxygen listing. Second, given our experience with the scientific evidence and process used for the dissolved oxygen listing, we are skeptical about these efforts.
We are frustrated by the fact that no matter what scientific evidence is presented, Ecology remains intent on this listing. Accordingly, we desire the following actions:
1) Immediate removal of Lake Whatcom from Ecologys priority list for TMDLs for the current biennium.
2) Removal of Lake Whatcom from EPAs 303(d) list until these technical issues can be resolved.
3) Demand that Ecology seriously engage in dealing with our concerns and address these issues to the satisfaction of the stakeholders involved in Lake Whatcom.
4) Provide supporting documentation that EPA has concurred with their listing recommendation. This should be in the form of a memo or report from a professional limnologist who understands the differences between depletion rates and concentrations and who has done a thorough review of the data. (General statements without corroborating technical evidence are difficult to address or refute.)
Water District 10 is a major public water purveyor in Whatcom County, and enjoys a reputation for taking actions to help protect Lake Whatcom as a raw water supply source. In addition, the elected legislative bodies of the District, the City of Bellingham, and Whatcom County have for several years now collaborated in the design and implementation of a cooperative program (enclosure (5)) to protect the quality of water in Lake Whatcom. Both the source protection effort and the cooperative program rely upon sound scientific information in formulation of control actions, regulatory recommendations, and public education programs.
We appreciate your immediate attention to this very important matter, and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Blair E. Ford
For the Board of Commissioners
Our republic is based on a social contract whereby citizens agree to surrender some freedom in exchange for protection and security. The U.S. Constitution outlines the freedoms that may not to be taken from citizens and the extent to which our government can use power to protect. Within the Constitutions broad framework, the level of protection and the freedoms given up are continually revisited, debated and redefined by those interpreting, writing, and executing our laws.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, many have revisited the level of freedom we are willing to surrender for security. Most of those discussions have focused on protection versus privacy.
The voices engaged most directly in this debate are those of our elected national representatives and those at the national levelincluding the attorney general, the secretary of state, and the director of the FBIwho are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Citizens Surrender Power to Elected Leaders
Though less directly, all citizens are engaged in this debate. It is the citizens voices through voting that surrender power to elected leaders. In a republic, the power comes from the people. What price are we willing to pay to protect these voices?
Whatcom County Auditor Shirley Forslof and her staff are grappling with this question and seek the opinion of Whatcoms residents on this issue. Should Whatcom County spend approximately one million dollars to change from our present punch-card system to a more modern paper ballot system that is optically-scanned? asks the auditors office on its web site (http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/auditor/home. htm). Visitors can answer simply by clicking on the yes or no icons on the page.
Punch-Cards Versus Optical-Scan System
The answer is less simple, however, if a resident wants to weigh the costs and benefits of this purchase before making a choice. Most of us have not had a chance to test drive the optical-scan system. We know one systempunch-cards, the most commonly used system in the United States. Given only the price of the new system, it is difficult to make an informed decision.
With this challenge in mind, information has been gathered from interviews, newspaper articles, and the Washington secretary of states web site with the hope that this will help each resident make an informed choice.
Have other counties in Washington and the United States replaced their punch-card system with the optical scanning system? Out of Washington states 39 counties, 25 have chosen to purchase optical-scan systems. Eighteen of those counties using optical-scanning have smaller populations than Whatcoms.1 Twenty-five percent of the counties in the U.S. use optical-scan. This percentage has almost doubled since 1992.2
What is the optical-scan system and how does it differ from the punch-card? Both systems are computer-based and use document ballots on which the voter records choices. 3
Pencil-Marked Ballots Scanned by Computer
The optical-scan system, also known as marksense, uses pencil-marked paper ballots that are scanned by a computer. The optical-scan technology was first used in standardized tests.4 To vote op-scan, its quite easy. All you use is a pencil, Cowlitz County Election Supervisor Libby Nieland explained.5
When purchasing an optical-scan system, there are two routes counties can take. One is to purchase poll-site tabulation units and one or more high-speed central counters. Spokane County purchased this kind of system for just over a million dollars and used it for the first time in the September 2001 primary. The other route is to purchase a number of high-speed central counters and truck in the optical-scan ballots to the central counting center. Skagit County chose this route and in 2000 purchased their system for roughly $120,000.6
Whatcom County Uses Votomatic Punch-Cards
There are two kinds of punch-card systems the datavote and the votomatic. Only two Washington counties use datavote. Twelve counties, including Whatcom, use the votomatic machines, which use the stylus to punch a hole and indicate a vote. It was the votomatic system used in Florida that made the headlines last November.
This system can dimple, or have incompletely detached punches, or chads, that confuse the electronic card readers. 7 The datavote machines, which use a paper puncher instead of a stylus, do not have the same problems.
What are the benefits of an optical-scanning machine over a punch-card system? The Washington state election supervisors interviewed cited three major benefits: the optical-scan system is easier for voters to use; the system makes it less difficult to audit an election; and voter intent is easier to identify.
Optical-Scan System More User-Friendly
They are much more user-friendly than the punch card, Ms. Nieland said. You can read immediately and see how to vote. I can be elderly and have a visual problem and I can still use a magnifying glass, see the ovals and fill it in. 8
We have quite a few elderly voters, echoed Mary Hemphill, Skagit County Election Supervisor. We received a lot of complaints from our older voters that had a difficult time reading the numbers on the [punch card] ballots and which holes to punch. Often times they would punch below the number, above, or beside the number. With optical-scanning ballots there are absolutely no difficulties in distinguishing selections to make. 9
Easy to Audit
The second benefit is auditability, Nieland added. With the optical scan I can virtually check over and check everything easily. 10 Each absentee-voter ballot must still be inspected, but because all the races and votes are on one document, and there are no chads, the process is much simpler.
The results from the polls will be faster, Ms. Forslof said. In the current punch-card system, every ballot must be inspected for chads or damage to make sure the ballot card will read through the card reader. With the precinct optical-scanner, the ballots are already inspected at the polls by the voter. 11
Using the optical-scanning system for the first time in Septem-bers primary, the audi-tors staff in Spokane finished counting the votes at 9:27 p.m. Last year using the punch-card system, we finished at 1:00 a.m., Sherry Bays, Spokane County Election Supervisor, said.12
Under-Votes and Over-Votes
Whatcom County Election Supervisor Peter Griffin points to a third benefit. The real advantage of optical-scan is you can feed the ballots into a reader that, if programmed for this, it will tell people if they have under-voted or over-voted. 13 The optical-scan can catch no vote or double vote ballots immediately after the voters submit them. Voters can then be given new ballots or stick with the ones they have completed.
Is the optical-scan system more accurate than the punch-card system? By comparing how well the two voting systems count all votes, Whatcom residents can better determine how much increased accuracy the optical-scan system provides.
One way to do this is to calculate the number of total ballots cast in an election and compare that to the number of total votes cast for a particular race. For example, out of 74,671 ballots cast in Whatcom County last November, 914 ballots did not containaccording to the punch-card system counta vote for president.14
It is possible that 914 people chose not to vote for a presidential candidate. It is also possible that some of those ballots contained votes for president that were erroneously not counted by the punch-card system.
Punch-Card System Seems Less Accurate
Does the optical-scan system significantly reduce the number of erroneously counted votes? Last November in King County, which uses the optical-scanning system, 0.62 percent of the ballots did not contain a vote for president. In Whatcom County, 1.22 percent of the ballots did not contain a vote for president.15 Why did Whatcom have twice the percentage of no votes for president than King County? One logical explanation is that the current punch-card system is less accurate at reading ballots.
Consider also that in eight races two federal and six state98 percent of the counties that had the fewest not voting ballots used optical-scanning. In those same eight races, nearly three quarters of the counties that had the most not voting ballots used punch-card systems.16
Also in those eight races, on average 28 counties out of 38 (39 in the Senate race) had fewer not voting ballots than Whatcom County (see chart this page). In seven of the eight races, Whatcom fell among the 15 counties that had the most not voting ballots.17
Skagit County, which uses the optical scanning system, had on average 11 counties with fewer not voting ballots. In seven of eight races, Skagit fell among the 15 counties that had the fewest not voting ballots.
Rules and Regulations More Important
Is there any data that suggests that the punch-card system is superior to optical-scanning? Statistics from the recount of Washingtons U.S. Senate race favor punch-cards. The 16 counties that used punch-card ballots saw their totals [from the recount] change by an average of only 0.04 percent . In the 23 counties using the newer, more expensive optical-scanning system the average change from the original to the recount was 0.46 percent. 18
The change in Douglas County (6.2 percent), where write-in ballots were accidentally read twice, skewed the results. However, even when not counting Douglas, the average change in vote totals for optical-scan counties was 0.2 percent, still five times higher than punch-card counties. 19
Election supervisors interviewed agreed with Snohomish County Auditor Bob Terwilliger who argued that having good rules and regulations in place to deal with uncertainty is more important than the kind of ballot used. 20
Is the county auditors web page the only place for residents to communicate their preference? To give more people the opportunity to express their opinions, Ms. Forslof plans to make the informal voter preference poll available at public libraries, city halls, and in super markets. The poll will also remain on the auditors web site until after the November 2001 election.
2 Eric A. Fischer, Voting Technologies in the United States: Overview and Issues for Congress. 21 Mar. 2001 http://www.cnie.org/nle/rsk-55.html. 3 Fischer.
5 Libby Nieland, personal interview, 26 Sept. 2001.
6 David Cunningham, personal interview, 26 Sept. 2001.
7 Ford Fessenden, No-vote rates higher in punch-card counts. The New York Times 1 Dec. 2001, sec. A: 27.
9 Mary Hemphill, personal interview, 26 Sept. 2001.
11 Shirley Forslof, personal interview, 27 Sept. 2001.
12 Sherry Bays, personal interview, 27 Sept. 2001.
13 Peter Griffin, personal interview, 27 Sept. 2001.
18 Cook, Rebecca, States punchcard ballots likely to stay, says Reed. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 6 Dec. 2000 http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/local/card06.shtml.
Whatcom Watch compiled the number not voting for eight races in 2000. They races were: President, U.S. Senate, Governor, Attorney General, Commissioner of Public Lands, Initiatives 713, 728, and 732. The tabulations below are for the Presidential race. For the all eight contests check our supplementary page.
We are fortunate to have many native plants from the lily family, Liliaceae. This large and varied family of mostly perennial herbs shares several characteristics. They grow from rhizomes, bulbs, or fleshy roots. The radially symmetric flowers have flower parts in groups of threes (except wild lily of the valley). They have a single superior ovary. The fruit is a three-chambered capsule or a berry.
You are familiar with many members of the lily family. Beautiful garden ornamentals include tulips, day lilies, lilies, hyacinths, scillas, and hostas. You need not be limited to these attractive, but common choices. You absolutely do not need to compromise on beauty to go native!
Many in the Lily Family Are Rare and Some Are Endangered
Many members of this family are becoming rare and some are endangered in the wild. Their habitat is being replaced by development and their desirability leads to the temptation to dig the bulbs (rhizomes, fleshy roots) for transplant into the garden. Please do not dig bulbs. The chance of a successful transplant is slight.
Taking a bulb in bloom is guaranteed to kill it. Take a few seeds and try growing your own, or if waiting five to six years for a bloom is too long, buy nursery propagated plants or plants that have been ethically salvaged.
Gardeners Dream Plants
The 10 plants listed below are but a small sampling of our native lily family. Erythroniums, alliums, brodiaea, camas, chocolate lily, tiger lily, trilliums, false Solomons seal, twisted stalk, Hookers fairybells, wild lily of the valley, queens cup, mountainbells, mariposa lilies, and bear grass are the things gardeners dreams are made ofenchanting plants for the woodlands, glamorous plants for the border, and captivating plants for the rock garden. I have picked 10 of my garden favorites to share with you.
Trout or Fawn Lily, Erythronium oreganum
Erythronium species in the Pacific Northwest are dazzling beauties. In the high mountain meadows, drifts of the white Erythronium montanum, avalanche lily, and E. grandiflorum, the yellow glacier lily, are so awesome. Montanum means of the mountains and both of these species fiercely insist on maintaining that relationship. They do not acclimate well to garden settings.
The two lowland species do quite well in a garden setting. E. oreganum, trout or fawn lily, grows in open prairies to moist but well-drained forests. It has large, lustrous white to pinkish flowers in spring. The leaves are equally fetching, as they are glossy, smooth lance-shaped, and mottled with brown or purple patterns.
Give it soil rich with leaf mold. It will self-sow and form drifts over time. E. revolutum, coastal trout lily has spectacular deep pink to magenta flowers with petals that reflex or curl backwards. (However it is on the rare or sensitive plant list for Washington.) Never disturb this species. It is seldom found in nurseries.
Hookers Onion, Allium acuminatum
There are about 30 species of alliums or wild onions in the Pacific Northwest. They all have the characteristic of a strong onion scent and long grass-like leaves. Hooker onion is found in open, rocky areas to forests. During May-July, it sends up a brilliant cluster of rose flowers. The leaves wither before the flower stalks emerge creating a perfect palette for displaying the flowers. This small plant does well in the garden rockery.
Nodding Onion, Allium cernuum
Nodding onion was a delicacy for coastal native peoples and early explorers. When cooked it has a sweet taste. The rosy purple flowers are bell-shaped and hang from slender pedicels giving the cluster an exquisite star-burst effect. In the garden use this species in sunny border plantings. It deserves a front row position so you can easily enjoy this June bloomer.
Cluster Brodiaea, Brodiaea congesta
Brodiaea is much like a wild onion but does not have the onion odor or taste. There are seven species in the Pacific Northwest. B. congesta has dense flower heads giving rise to its common name, cluster brodiaea.
The lavender-purple flowers bloom during May-June and stand one to two feet tall. They usually grow in open, dry grassy places. The tall grass supports the tall, wiry stems of the brodiaea. In the garden, provide support with surrounding foliage like shorter bunch grass.
Harvest Brodiaea, Brodiaea coronaria
B. coronaria, harvest brodiaea is vivid shades of blue, purple, or violet accented by a white center at the heart of the shallow tube-shaped flower. It blooms later than most lilies, reaching its peak during July-August. Corms were dug and eaten by early explorers and native peoples giving it the name harvest brodiaea or harvest lily. It grows about eight inches tall and has narrow leaves. All of these species do well in sunny, dry sites.
Tiger Lily, Lilium columbianum
This classic lily is the most common of the six native species of the lilium genus in the Pacific Northwest. The flower is orange with reflexing petals that are spotted with red. There is an old English folk-belief that anyone who smelled the tiger lily would get freckles. Expect to see between two and 20 blossoms on each plant in June. Like most of the native lilies, tiger lilies prefer moist, open habitats or woodlands. The Coast Salish peoples cooked the bitter, peppery tasting bulbs in soup and with meats.
Wake Robin, Trillium ovatum
Showy white blossoms of this lovely shade plant are held above three large leaves. As the flower ages it turns pink to purple. This is the most common trillium in the Pacific Northwest. T. petrolatum, purple trillium, occurs east of the Cascades.
T. chlorpetalum, sessile trillium, has a range from Olympia to Willamette Valley. Trilliums need moist to wet woods, stream banks, and shaded open areas. Trilliums depend on ants to disperse their seed. Other spring flowering forest plants also use the services of the ants: bleeding heart, wild ginger, and inside-out flowers. Trilliums grow from short, stout fleshy rhizomes.
Great Camas, Camassia leichtlinii
Camas is one of the special treats of the Pacific Northwest plant world. This two-foot high lily is robust with deep purplish-blue and occasionally white flowers that line up on a terminal spike. Camas is closely tied to the peoples of western America.
It was a mainstay food for the Plains Indians and a supplemental vegetable for the coastal peoples. The great camas will adapt well to a moist, sunny border or a wild natural area that becomes dry in summer. It can take heavy soil.
Common Camas, Camassia quamash
There is nothing common about this handsome blue-violet lily. The common name refers to the fact that C. quamash is more common in occurrence of the two camas species. Common camas is one to two feet tall and the colors range from pale blue to deep purple.
Camas can be found in moist meadows with deep soil. This species was also eaten. Within tribes, camas beds could be owned and inherited. They were periodically burned to keep out encroaching brush and trees.
Chocolate Lily, Fritillaria lanceolata,
The glorious mottled purple, yellow, and green blooms appear in April. They occur in prairies, oak woodlands, and grassy headlands. This genus is highly valued by bulb growers and we are lucky to have some of the best of the genus in the western U.S. Of the 10 species, chocolate lilies are superior garden plants for the sunny to semi-shaded border or rock garden. Often they are found in the shade of another plant.
Geoff Menzies is contractor for Puget Sound Restoration Fund, Drayton Harbor Restoration. Projects.
Community as described in Websters dictionary includes: an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location, a unified body of individuals, a group linked by a common policy. A renewed sense of community identity and spirit is being nurtured and is growing in the Blaine area. This sometimes forgotten or misunderstood stepchild of Whatcom County is on the move.
Through the leadership of the Blaine City Council, its new city manager and planner, and with input from citizens and local businesses, this small town is rediscovering its major asset. That asset is its waterfront setting on Drayton Harbor and its access to Semiahmoo Bay and White Rock. I am hopeful that this new energy is a step toward a more sustainable community, which balances economic, social, and environmental well-being.
Benchmark Is Water Quality
The benchmark, which will ultimately be used to evaluate environmental sustainability in this community, is water quality in the surrounding marine waters and more specifically, our ability to restore and maintain shellfish growing and harvesting opportunities in both Drayton Harbor and Semiahmoo Bay. This is our key indicator of environmental health.
Through a unique project, led by the Puget Sound Restoration Fund with financial support from the Trillium Corporation and the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team, a group of local volunteer citizens from Blaine, Bellingham, and White Rock have launched the Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm.
Farmers of the Tide Flats
These new-found farmers of the tide flats, in partnership with the City of Blaine, the Semiahmoo First Nation, the Washington State Department of Health, Department of Natural Resources, Port of Bellingham, Rock Point Oyster Company and others, have planted two acres of oyster seed in the now prohibited waters of Drayton Harbor.
The intent of the project is to galvanize the community behind the shellfish resource and to drive the water quality improvements that are needed to re-open Drayton Harbor to shellfish harvesting. This is a unique and powerful strategy for restoring our local marine waters. Pacific oysters planted this summer will be ready for harvest by the spring of 2004.
If all goes well regarding improvements in water quality and completion of numerous on-the-ground projects to better identify and control fecal bacterial pollution, the bay will be re-opened, and oysters will be harvested and sold commercially. Proceeds from the sale of these community-grown oysters will support ongoing water quality projects as identified by the Drayton Harbor Shellfish District Citizens Advisory Committee.
Restoration Wont Automatically Happen
Blau Oyster Company in Samish Bay is ready and willing to purchase these gems when the state gives us the green light for harvest. The restoration of Drayton Harbor is not automatically going to happen easily just because oyster seed has been planted for the first time in over five years.
Drayton Harbor will be restored because the community is beginning to recognize the value of having a clean harbor and shellfish that are safe to eat, and the community will be more willing to do something about it through its involvement in this project.
This new community spirit is evident in a volunteer, cross-border, storm water sampling program which has just gotten started recently. It is a spin-off of the Community Oyster Farm project. Partners in this project include the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, the City of Blaine, Department of Health, Whatcom County Water Resources Division, citizen volunteers on both sides of the border and Environment Canada through the South Fraser Health Region.
Shared Waters Being Sampled
In this project, more than forty storm drains from California Creek to White Rock are being sampled routinely by trained volunteers for a six-month period. Marine waters at strategic locations are being sampled at the same time. The findings and recommendations of this community-based study will be jointly published by the Shared Waters roundtable, which developed from the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative.
This roundtable is a trans-boundary group focusing on shellfish restoration in the shared waters of Drayton Harbor and Semiahmoo Bay. The goal of this storm water sampling program is to identify the most contaminated drainages into these water bodies and to do the follow-up work needed to identify the specific pollution sources and fix them.
This is a low-budget project with a lot of social capital in the form of dedicated volunteers and assistance from local and state government. We all expect solutions to come from this project in a timely fashion.
Oysters Will Be Harvested in 2004
There is a new community in Blaine and White Rock, which is best described as an interacting body of various individuals who are divided by an international boundary, but linked by a common policy. Occasionally, we drop our other activities, put on our hip boots and gloves, and come together to make the glorious boat-trip in Drayton Harbor to tend to our young oyster planting.
We will have oysters to harvest and we would like to invite you to an oyster feed, which will be held in 2004 on the Semiahmoo Spit. At this gathering, we will celebrate the power of community and our shellfish resource in the form of home-grown oysters, which will by then be safe to eat.
Dont worry if you dont like eating oysters; some of our farmers of the tide flats dont like oysters either. They do like clean water, though. Until that invitation comes, you can bet that the oysters in Drayton Harbor will be getting fatter and if the community continues to rise to the challenge to control pollution, the waters will be getting cleaner as well.
Anna Schaad is a local classically trained violinist and violist who currently has multiple recordings on the market. She is also finishing up her latest CD, The Journey, which is filled with intricate compositions woven around and through an epic tale.
As with most aspects of the music business there is little time, and even less time to branch out. Yet, it seems that this is willingly disregarded in her schedule as she still maintains various programs, not to mention recording, writing, and performing tasks with complete diligence.
Schaad Immersed in Northwest Music Scene
Russ Hugo: Please introduce yourself, and give the readers a little background on your musical influences and background.
Anna Schaad: I was raised up locally in the Northwest and was immersed in music from a young age. I studied classical violin and participated in all kinds of music programs: Seattle Youth Symphony, Thalia, and Marrowstone Music Festival. I took private lessons for ten years growing up, with various teachers.
I eventually studied with Paul Coletti, who is a concert violist and a phenomenal master of the viola; ironically, I studied violin with him and never considered trying the viola until I had my electric viola made! (The viola has that lower C string and it is a beautiful, rich tone that is distinctly different than violin.)
I currently play acoustic violin, violas, octave violin, as well as electric violin and viola. I enjoy playing with many different tones.
Privilege to Live Here
Q: How long have you resided in the Pacific Northwest? What originally brought you here?
Schaad: I was born and raised in the Northwest. I consider this my homeland, and love the Northwest with a passion. I could never envision living anywhere else, except perhaps France or Italy for a few months at a time! I feel very strongly that people need to adopt their home, the place that they live and not only take from it, but also give back.
Its a privilege to live here, surrounded by so much natural beauty, and things are changing so fast. I am always putting my thoughts into people adopting a lifestyle that remains true to the landscape; I think it is crucial to know about the environment and the growth issues that this region is currently facing if you are going to live here.
I gather so much of my inspiration from nature, and the wildness and freedom of this place is so precious to mewe need to protect that.
Difference Between Life Then and Now
Q: Back in 1991 you started a program called the Talking Fiddle program, which works with Alzheimers patients and the elderly. Could you give a little history about the program and how far it has come since its inception?
Schaad: The Talking Fiddle program began as a result of studying American history in college, and falling in love the with popular music of the early 1900s. I decided to go visit some retirement homes and talk to elderly folks about their lives and experiences, and one day I brought my violin with me.
Over time it developed into an hour-long music program that I have performed in hundreds of retirement homes and special care facilities in the Northwest. I am fascinated with the difference between life then and now so to speak; it seems as though things were less complex, more innocent, and yet probably more adventuresome than now, in many ways.
There was so much to explore, so much yet to be donejust things as simple as the highway system, the advent of cars, the advent of television, history at that time, the music people listened to, the ways that they enjoyed themselves...there was a lot of great music in that timemusic that was melodic and memorable.
People used to sing and play the piano in their homes, go to dances every Saturday night, dance until three in the morning! Something as simple as a new dress may have been a big deal. Its a fascinating thing to me. In a way we have grown up in a time where we have so many choices, access to so much information and so much material wealth and convenience, weve lost perspective.
It is incredibly rewarding to see an elderly persons face light up when you play a song. Music is one of the most enduring factors of memory. An Alzheimers patient may not remember their name or the names of their family members, but you can play them My Blue Heaven and theyll sing the lyrics perfectly.
I find a lot of joy in sharing time with older people. Every time I do a program, I come home with a gift. I dont do as many of them now, because I am so busy with my own music, but I still keep doing a few every month.
Workshops Are Starting Point
Q: Not to leave out the fact that you put on fiddle workshops for students, are there any plans to develop this more in the future?
Schaad: Ive done a few fiddle workshops and really enjoyed that. I had such incredible experiences as a kid going to music camps and playing for six, seven, 10 hours a day. Your technique and general understanding of music increases so fast when you are in that kind of environment.
I have wanted to begin something like that in Bellingham, and the workshops are a starting point. Id like to have a three-day affair once or twice a year; its just so much fun! I just havent had the time to put that kind of thing together lately.
New Album Considers Inner Landscape
Q: Through the local grapevine I have that you are currently working on a new album, The Journey. Have you approached this project differently than your previous works, either through production or writing? How is it coming along?
Schaad: This new album has been a much bigger endeavor for me than my last two, because the compositions are inter-linked and quite complex. The music tells the story of a woman who is wandering off in her imagination one day, and on this particular day she hears a haunting, faraway melody, and feels compelled to follow this path further than she ever has before.
The womans journey is one of self-discovery and self-empowerment, so writing the text and music, and recording and producing it, has been a very emotional journey for me. I believe in the power of ones imagination, and my life is really defined by it; I have never been able to tuck it away, or put it in its place! It is too important!
Performing New Material
Q: Do you have any upcoming shows in the local area?
Schaad: Aside from a concert in the park this month, Ive been laying low and finishing my new album. Next on the local agenda is to do a full-scale production of The Journey at the Mount Baker Theater on December 7. I will be working on that throughout the fall, as well as releasing the album locally and regionally.
There is a lot involved in that, so I have limited my performance schedule. But I am really looking forward to performing this new material because I have some sensational musicians I am working withJoe Yamada on piano and synthesizer, Laurie Lyster from Vancouver, British Columbia playing percussion, Stelly Zerangue on guitars and bouzouki, and my student, Brian Winters, on fiddle.
Im also working on having a string section to play with me on my bigger concerts, because there is a lot of that on the album. It will be a bit like my own little chamber orchestra when its all put together.
Music Scene in State of Flux
Q: What is your opinion of the current national/international music scene and its reception and dealings with independent artists, compared to the local Bellingham arts groups?
Schaad: The music scene is in a huge state of flux right now. The technology and the Internet has made things so much more accessible, and the number of Indies (independent music companies) putting out great music now is staggering...the possibilities are endless.
There is so much music being createdmore than ever before, and that makes the market extremely competitive. I am thrilled that the technology is such that the sky is the limit with what you can create. I think that there is room in a time like this for something new.
If something doesnt exist and needs to exist, it can be created. Things dont have to be done the same way theyve always been done; there are more and more pathways an artist can take.
On the other hand, because of the speed of things in the music industry, you can find yourself spending a lot of time keeping abreast of new technology, services, marketing strategies and the like...the business side of being an artist is almost, as fascinating as the music side of things.
Thank goodness I have a wonderful manager now, Charlie Cantrell, who can help me handle this side of things. Its important to have all the help that you need. With the right support, the right team, I think that incredible things can be done locally, right here in our beautiful neck of the woodsthings that sizzle, things that blossom and things that just plain knock you out!
Many Compositions Inspired by Natural World
Q: What do you do for inspiration when trying to compose a piece? What method(s) do you put into practice for song writing?
Schaad: Composing is really my favorite part of music. Where does it come from? A very mysterious placeI dont need to be in a certain mood or have any particular setting to compose, with the exception of quiet. In my mind the music comes from some place greater than myself, and I am simply a conduit.
Its my job to sit down and be still and listen, and it always comes. I have a new album just beginning to come through and if I dont sit down to compose, eventually it will just knock on the door louder and louder, until I can no longer ignore it!
The music usually comes in pieces, a bit at a time, and its like laying out a puzzle and putting the pieces together; sometimes the music is more complex than I can figure out all at once, and so it gives it to me one layer at a time.
On The Journey, I would often write a piece and then have to study it to figure out how in the heck to play it! A lot of the violin parts were very challenging. The key signatures were unusual; they required more bow technique, lots of shifting....
Really, the hard part is making the music on a CD sound the way it sounds in my head, because in my head, it is flawless. That is definitely the hard part. You are always reaching, for that higher place.
In addition to that, a great deal of my composing is inspired by nature. Nature is music in motionthere is nothing more dramatic, more harmonious, more awe-inspiring or more beautiful to me. I strive to create music that can give a person the feeling of a forest filled with golden light, or the majesty of a vast and wildly beautiful place, or simply the wind blowing through the trees.
We have such perfection all around us and yet sometimes it takes a piece of music or a painting for us to see. Great art brings us closer to what is important in life, and I seek to create from that place of true inspiration.
Splitting Into Two People
Q: How much of a part do you like to have in the more behind the scenes aspect of recording, such as production and/or mixing?
Schaad: The production of the CD is a big part of it for me. I am playing a lot of roles in my music by choice. I choose to be the producer because I want to learn what that is all about and I want to steer the ship of my music. Im sure in the future I may learn a great deal from other producers, but there is nothing like being in the trenches your self. That is really the way that you are going to learn.
One of the most challenging things is when I am recording my own tracks; it is like splitting myself into two people. The producer side of me is sometimes exasperated with the musician side of me when I cant seem to get a part right! I tend to be a perfectionist, which is a good thing, but comes with its own feisty side too.
As far as mixing, that is one of the most critical parts of the process and I work really closely with my studio engineer, Phil Heaven, on that one. He is so masterful at his equipment, and has this amazing calm assurance that never fails.
We are both willing to work at it until its as close as it can be to the concept in my mind, which isnt always easy. The songs on this project often had 18 to 24 tracks so mixing was particularly intense. It is a real art form, mixing that many sounds together in the right way.
Epic Stories and Fairy Tales
Q: And as a nice cap to the previous questions, is there a record or possibly, a good book that you have been enjoying recently that you would like to pass on?
Schaad: My favorite author right now is Guy Gavriel Kay. He writes these incredible epic stories, set in another time. He does a huge amount of historical research on a period of time and then creates a story that parallels it, but is entirely fictional. He is one of the most brilliant, captivating storytellers I have ever read and I love his books!
I guess Im particularly drawn to epic stories and fairy tales, and all of my music has stories that go with them. Music tells a story, and I love to hear a good story told. You know its good when you forget where you are, lose track of the time, and cant hear the phone ringingthats one of the best parts of life.
To Learn More
Check out Annas music on the web at annaschaad.com or ravenfiddle.com. CDs are available on the web at both these sites.
The Raven Project and Songspell are available locally at: Cellophane Square, Avalon Records, and The Bergsma Gallery.
Schaads new album, The Journey was recently released on Schaads own label, Raven Fiddle Productions. It is available at annaschaad.com, amazon.com, and at your favorite record store. A full-scale theatrical production of The Journey will be premiered at the Mount Baker Theatre on December 7, at 8 p.m. Tickets will go on sale November 1, through the Mt. Baker Theatre ticket office and Ticketmaster. More information can be found at annaschaad.com.
Additional inquiries can be made to: Raven Fiddle Productions, P.O. Box 2022, Bellingham, WA 98227.
The Pacific Northwest is perceived as a gloomy place where solar generation isnt viable, yet Germany produces as much as 15 percent of its national electrical needs from solar generation on less sunshine that we have. Japan has installed over four million systems in 2000-2001, making it the hottest market for solar installations. Their economies are better protected against energy price shocks, making them more competitive in the global arena.
The burning of fossil fuels is a major contributor to global warming. Here, in the land of rain, 32 percent of the Northwests electricity comes from coal. It is a dirty and inefficient source for electricity generation. The compounding efficiency of coal production (96 percent), transportation (97 percent), steam turbine electric generation (38 percent), and electricity transmission (93 percent) to light an incandescent bulb (5 percent) is 1.6 percent efficient overall. Almost all the energy invested to create and deliver a watt is wasted. Along the way, the coal created open pit mines, congested roadways, air and water pollution, and unsightly power-lines.
Sunlight Is Free Resource Without Perils
Photovoltaic modules however, convert the ambient photons striking the panel into electricity with a 4-11 percent efficiency. Sunlight is a free resource without perils. The generated power is used onsite with nominal losses in transmission. This is twice to eight times the efficiency of coal.
Just harnessing all the south-facing rooftops within the county could supply all of the countys residential electrical needs. There would be no need for additional high-voltage power lines, fossil fuel generation facilities, and transformer stations. Participants of the Whatcom 1000 Solar Rooftop Project and members of the NexGenEn Co-op are dedicated to a safer, cleaner, and better environment that preserves the rural nature and wild vistas of the county while providing for sustainable economic activities.
Why Renewable Energy?
The negatives of a fossil fuel dependent energy economy is obvious to us living here in Whatcom County. There have been two pipeline ruptures recently and a controversial proposal to site a natural gas-fired power generation plant in the City of Sumas. G-P and Intalco invested heavily in the spot market and rising electrical rates was cited for the plant shutdowns. Electricity consumption continues to grow as the information society runs more and more on electrons.
In the Governors 2001 biennial energy report, 44 percent of all residential household energy used was consumed within the house for spacing conditioning (15 percent), water heating (8 percent), refrigeration (4 percent), and other (17 percent). Passive solar designs and active solar systems can supply these energy needs without a reliance on fossil fuel sources. The remaining 56 percent of all residential household energy was used for personal transportation.
The Next Generation Energy Cooperative (NexGenEn Coop) is determined to create a self-sufficient energy community through the development of distributed, small-scale renewable power generating systems. It puts the electricity generation (our rooftops) at the source where the power will be consumed (our homes). Sunshine and wind are free resources just needing todays technology to harness their power potential.
Renewable energy is a reliable and benign resource, unlike the fossil fuel lifeblood of our economy, which can be disrupted by foreign powers and radical groups. We have foolishly invested our security and our economic viability into a fuel source that is finite.
Dams fall apart and petroleum wells run dry. It is only a matter of time before the market supply and demand mechanics cause electricity costs to skyrocket. We witnessed the future during the California energy crisis and we all suffered for it. We can hedge against that calamity by investing into renewable energy generation sources now.
Next Generation Energy Co-operative
The Next Generation Energy Co-operative (NexGenEn Co-op) will shift individual and community paradigms away from fossil fuel electricity generation to renewable electricity generation through education efforts and demonstration projects like the Whatcom 1000 Solar Rooftop Project.
NexGenEn Co-op is empowering members to unite and promote small-scale power generators in planning discussions with regional utilities and government agencies with knowledge, intelligence and tenacity. NexGenEn Co-op education efforts will lower household electrical consumption and Whatcom County residents will demand more renewable power generation, not pipelines and power plants.
NexGenEn Co-op is investing in a cleaner energy future one rooftop at a time.
Solar Rooftop Project
The Whatcom 1000 Solar Rooftop Project will advocate, recruit, site, finance, and install 1000 grid inter-tied photovoltaic solar panels and solar thermal hot water systems, using low-interest $5,000 loans to single family housing, multiple family housing, family-owned farms, and business owners from a self-perpetuating loan fund by December 31, 2010.
The Whatcom 1000 Solar Rooftop Project generation and conservation savings could exceed one megawatt and outset 65 million pounds of smog and greenhouse gases for the next 20 to 30 years.
The low-interest loans are amortized over the twenty-year warranty period of the solar modules. One quarter of all systems are dedicated to serving low income households. Each installation includes an energy audit to identify and recommend decreasing phantom loads, inefficient lighting, and inefficient appliances to increase electrical use efficiency.
Excess electricity is sold to PSE through the net metering system as a credit and will reduce the utility burden to these property owners. Besides bridging the gap of affordability, these solar systems will shift individual and community paradigms away from resource-depleting and environment-degrading power generation, to clean, renewable, and desirable power generation systems.
Whatcom 1000 History
Jeffree Utter, director of the Evergreen Land Trusts River Farm renewable energy program, assembled a dozen community members in the fall of 2000 around his vision of creating solar-`based energy generation for Whatcom County. These participants have met steadily since, and developed The Next Generation Energy Cooperative to administer the Whatcom 1000 Solar Rooftop Project.
NexGenEn Co-op has already partnered with the Community Food Co-op, Alternative Energy Solutions, Evergreen Land Trust, Dorough and Associates, Whatcom County Parks and Recreation, Opportunity Council, RE Sources, City of Bellingham, City of Lynden, and the Department of Energys million solar rooftops campaign. Demonstration projects at the Community Food Co-operative, Whatcom County Senior Center, and Whatcom County Parks and Recreation headquarters are generating 2.8 kilowatts under optimal conditions.
*Statistics quoted were from Renewable Northwest Project web site, Home Power magazine, Governors 2001 Biennial Energy Report, and the Department of Energy publications.
Whatcom 1000 Solar Rooftop Project
1101 Harris Avenue, Suite 27
Bellingham, WA 98225