Politics Blog

Whatcom council chair creates Facebook page for water issues

Whatcom County has been feeling the pull of a Pisces moon ever since the November 2013 election was over. That's when political activists, the media and to a certain extent the candidates took a breath and stopped eating, sleeping and breathing coal.

Since, then, it seems, the focus has been on something arguably more vital, and certainly more pervasive. Whatcom County has issues with water.

How do we clean up Lake Whatcom? How do we clean up the shellfish areas? How do we meet the needs of all who use water in this county -- the fish, the farmers, the industries, the residents, etc.?

It seems these are the questions that are getting the lion's share of attention from the political activists, the media and the elected officials.

The League of Women Voters was an early entrant into the community conversation, hosting water forums in February and March. The more conservative-leaning Rome Grange picked up the ball on Saturday, April 19, hosting a similar morning forum in the same Bellingham Library meeting space.

(Incidentally, the Herald's coverage of the Grange's forum, linked above, was provided by Samantha Wohlfeil, who has been on-and-off with us over the past couple years. Now covering Saturdays and performing some other newsroom duties, Sam will be reporting full time for us soon. It pleases me that smart, dedicated people such as Sam continue to graduate college with a desire to work in traditional media.)

In government, the elected official taking the lead on Whatcom's myriad water issues is County Council Chairman Carl Weimer. He debuted on Sunday night, April 20, a new Facebook page to track progress on the Water Action Plan he wrote and the council unanimously approved in March.

Weimer said in an interview today that he created the Facebook page because one of the most common responses he has gotten to a water-issue survey is a request for more information. He said the Facebook page should be updated daily, or just about.

Weimer remains committed to public service, having successfully run for a third term on the County Council because the county had to tackle so many important issues over the next four years, he said (the jail, water, the Gateway Pacific coal terminal). But he also has more than the average politician's share of cynicism.

The first thing that struck me about Weimer's Facebook page, "Whatcom Water Action?", was the decayed salmon's head used for a profile photo. (It's probably a salmon that spawned out and died, not one that choked on phosphorus-induced algae or coal dust.)

The second thing of note about the title of the page was that it ends in a question mark. When asked about his choice of punctuation marks, Weimer said it reflected his cynical side.

"We've been down these water roads numerous times in the past 10 or 15 years," Weimer said, only to start off well and then to founder for one reason or another.

It remains an open question, then, whether this latest Water Action Plan will get to wherever it needs to go.

Weimer said he would still like input on the water survey. Here's the link.