Thank you representatives Vincent Buys and Jim Walsh for the opportunity to explain the importance of the Hirst decision. The Washington State Department of Ecology is legally required to determine well drilling based on Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) maps. There are 62 specific areas in the state based on geological drainage. Whatcom County shares two of these designated areas.
The Hirst ruling mandates that Whatcom County be responsible for its own water decisions based on economic and growth needs of businesses, environmental needs, population and agricultural usage.
In 1975, Whatcom County’s population was around 93,000. Today it is around 220,000. Unfortunately, available water does not increase with population and use requirements which is one reason growth management plans are required. If the county doesn’t know who is using what quantity of water, how can it permit new wells in a shared aquifer?
Housing projects are required to have regulated flow to each home, metered and accounted for. Farms and rural homes need to be accountable too because we share the limited resource!
WRIA maps tell us where water is, Hirst requires us to decide how, when and where to use it. To legislatively “leverage” budget considerations in an effort to find a “permanent Hirst solution” (deny the court decision) is not taking constituents’ best interest at heart!
During these dark winter months with poor visibility, particularly during the evenings, I have become increasingly aware of the danger that our local pedestrians are placing themselves in by not observing a few simple safety rules: 1. Where sidewalks are not available, always walk on the left side of the road facing on-coming traffic. 2. Wear lighter colored clothing and reflective vests and/or lights. 3. If walking in groups, walk single file. 4. If walking a pet, make sure that your animal also has reflective gear and/or lights. Our roads in Blaine tend to be narrow and many of them have no sidewalks.
Pedestrians wearing dark clothing and walking on the wrong side of the road are very hard to pick up visually, either by automobile drivers or by cyclists. These requests are simple, inexpensive, and common-sense and may spell the difference between an evening walk and a tragic and preventable accident.
Thanks very much!
In November, Whatcom County’s jail proposition was defeated. Now what? Our jail is still in need of repairs and maintenance, it is still overcrowded (although there are reasonable alternatives to incarceration for certain non-felons which would alleviate this) and there is still a need for improved programs for those in need of mental health treatment.
To better understand where we go from here, I listened to Joy Gilfilen, president of Restorative Community Coalition, as she outlined these concerns. Her advice? Become better educated. Get a copy of the Vera Institute of Justice report (bit.ly/2z6jhty). Contact Restorative Community Coalition (whatcomrec.org) and become familiar with their work. Recommend that the sheriff’s office move from the basement of the existing jail, opening up space in the current facility. Promote “no bail” alternatives, after educating yourself on the issue.
We can move forward as educated, informed residents and make Whatcom County better for so many.