Says drinking water must be top priority

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 9, 2013 

A recent letter complained about costs to reduce phosphorous runoff from new developments in the Lake Whatcom watershed. I believe the letter ignores important issues.

First, the lake provides drinking water for half the county's residents; surely, the health and safety of citizens is a top priority for local governments, trumping the property rights of a few landowners.

Second, the lots in question were bought in 2004, six years after the state officially declared Lake Whatcom "impaired." The buyers knew that actions would be taken to reduce runoff into the lake. They chose to ignore both science and law and made, what now looks to them, a poor investment. Government has no role in ensuring that investments pay off. Some of my stock-market investments have done poorly; can I ask government for compensation?

Finally, the letter asserts that "the Nooksack is the problem." Regardless of whether diversion from the Nooksack River adds phosphorous to Lake Whatcom, years of research from WWU shows clearly the importance of runoff from developments around Lake Whatcom. To protect our drinking water and restore the lake's ecology, we must limit development in the watershed, reduce runoff from new developments, and require existing developments to cut runoff from their properties to meet the goals established by the state Department of Ecology.

Eric Hirst

Bellingham

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