Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, May 25, 2007

Department of Ecological Fallacies

I have been astonished (sarcasm intended) that none of the important developments concerning water in the corridor have been covered by the Daily News. Yes, I know the Moscow shooting coverage has dominated the news, but there have been stories this week about the Deary fire hall and the Garfield-Palouse prom.

I have stated before that we don't need Moscow trying to stop development in the corridor, our own state's idiot bureaucracy is doing a great job on that front already. Last Friday, KMAX reported that the Whitman County Water Conservancy Board meeting scheduled for two weeks ago Monday was canceled because it had been determined that the Hawkins Companies stormwater plan might reduce the flow of Paradise Creek below Department of Ecology limits. Hawkins' plan was to have no runoff by catching all the stormwater in a large basin. I guess DOE's concern is that whatever rain that falls in that field currently won't make it into the creek. Talk about damned if you and damned if you don't. On the one hand, DOE says Paradise Creek has too much turbidity from runoff. So when Hawkins mitigates that, now DOE says there won't be enough runoff. There will not be another Water Conservancy Board meeting until Hawkins revises its plan.

In another major development, KQQQ reported that DOE is recommending that the South Fork of the Palouse River in Whitman County be removed from "impaired river" status and DOE is taking comments on the decision until June 22. Unfortunately the city of Pullman will still be required to comply with the much stricter stormwater licensing requirements.

This decision ceomes out of the ongoing TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) study. DOE has found certain persistent chemicals are showing lower levels over the past decades. However, water temperature and fecal coliform continues to be an issue that DOE will require Whitman County to manage.

State Environmental Policy Act requirements are not expected to change significantly due to this particular report. And water availability issues will continue to be a more restrictive element to development in the corridor than water quality issues.

A quick analysis of the 117 page report brings up some screwy things:
The fish fauna in the Palouse River is limited with respect to species generally considered desirable as food. The predominant species of catchable size are large-scale suckers, northern pike minnow, smallmouth bass, and chiselmouth.
However, the Washington Department of Fish and Game PAYS people to fish for and kill the Northern Pikeminnow because they eat salmon eggs and young salmon!

We are cleaning up our river at great cost as directed by DOE to improve habitat for a fish that destroys salmon runs, which is supposedly DOE's biggest priority. Insanity.
Fish tissue concentrations of dieldrin and PCBs have decreased by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude over the past 10 to 20 years and will continue to decrease without further action being taken. However the actions outlined in the previous section will assure that the levels of these pollutants continue to decline and may even accelerate the timeframe when the Palouse River will reach water quality standards for dieldrin and PCBs.
So, we can do NOTHING and we will still achieve approximately the same results as with the restrictions and costly measures.

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