Tuesday, June 30, 2009

From the July 1, 2009 "Kenmore Reporter" - Sno-King Watershed Council and Little Swamp Creek in the local media!

Group takes regional look at waterways


Bothell Reporter Reporter

About a year and a half back, the grassroots group People for an Environmentally Responsible Kenmore (PERK) called a public meeting to discuss a stream known only by its number designation, 0056.

As 0056 flows through a couple of jurisdictions besides Kenmore, those attending the discussion included representatives from at least two cities, a number of resident groups and some private, environmentally minded citizens. Among the latter was Eric Adman.

During the meeting, Adman said someone from the nonprofit Adopt-A-Stream Foundation noticed there were a number of small groups represented such as PERK, many linked to individual waterways.

“They didn’t really speak as representatives of the overall issues,” Adman.

Out of that discussion grew the Sno-King Watershed Council, of which Adman is the current chair.

A Kenmore resident who lives along Little Swamp Creek, Adman said the council tries to be sort of an umbrella group and a bridge between the highly focused interests of groups such as, for example, the Denny Creek Neighborhood Association, and more regional questions.

What are those regional questions? Adman said they range from increased urban flooding to regulatory inconsistencies across jurisdictional boundaries. The group’s goals include educating the public, decision makers and other stakeholders. One big event listed by Adman was a multi-jurisdictional meeting on Swamp Creek held in Lake Forest Park in October.

That event drew State Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, as well as officials from several local communities.

In terms of education, Adopt-A-Stream Director Tom Murdoch said the Watershed Council, of which he is a big fan, has its work cut out for it. To start with, he wondered out loud just how many people know what a watershed is or could name the watershed in which they live.

Murdoch added a simplified definition of a watershed is any area that feeds water into a specific waterway. Adman noted watersheds usually extend for miles around a particular watercourse. In terms of maintaining and restoring local streams and creeks, Adman seems to think the biggest issue by far is controlling the runoff from watersheds.

Thanks to development and, in his mind, way too much impervious asphalt and concrete, way too much water reaches way too many waterways. One result is urban flooding after heavy rains or heavy snow melts.

“We have 100-year floods every few years,” Adman said.

In response to some of these and other issues, the state recently has mandated the use of low-impact development (LID) construction methods “wherever feasible.”

“The question is, what does ‘wherever feasible’ mean?” Adman said.

Permeable pavement certainly is one LID technique to control runoff, but Adman added there are plenty of others, and spreading the word about those is certainly a mission of the Watershed Council. Of course all the work regarding run-off ultimately will help keep pollutants out of waterways, one piece of the puzzle that could lead to restoration of various salmon runs, another issue of great interest to the Watershed Council.

For his part, Adman said there is no doubt living alongside Little Swamp Creek inspired him to get involved with water-quality and watershed-control issues. He said he’s seen a few salmon in the creek, but also seen days when the water resembles “cream-filled coffee.”

With the help of Adopt-A-Stream, Adman added his back yard has become a demonstration project for restoring native vegetation.

A paramedic stationed at the downtown Bothell fire station and having just come off a shift, Adman nevertheless is well-spoken and talks seemingly effortlessly about the complicated issues for which he has a clear passion. He wants the Watershed Council to continue to grow, to add more experts and to keep on “prodding” local officials into action.

“We just really want to connect the dots between the problems and provide solutions,” Adman said.

For further information, visit www.snokingwatershedcouncil.org.

Bothell Reporter Reporter Tom Corrigan can be reached at tcorrigan@bothell-reporter.com or (425) 483-3732, ext. 5052.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

White Rock/Sediment Experiment

A little while back I learned of an experiment one can do involving placing painted rocks in a river or stream and tracking their movement from high water flows. That idea gave me the inspiration for a way to try to see how much silt/sediment settles out of the water in Little Swamp Creek after a good rain. (Truth be told, I know my idea was influenced by my interest in the environmental sculptor Andy Goldsworthy) I purchased a bag of white marble "chips" and made a circle of them in the stream about 15-18" in diameter:

These starting pictures were taken on June 4th. You may be able to tell from this closer picture that at this location the bottom of the stream is covered with a bit of silt already - about 1/4-1/2". I chose this day to place the rocks in the stream because it hadn't rained for a couple of weeks and there was rain in the weather forecast - the perfect conditions for some particularly silty water to come downstream.

I was very surprised to see that after just 3 hours in the stream, on a clear day, the white rocks looked like this:

After 18 hours, the rocks looked like this (and we did not have the forecasted rain):

This is 24 hours after the rocks were placed in the stream:

48 hours in the stream:

5 days after placing the rocks in the stream:

And today, after 25 days in the stream, and not much rain, the rocks are almost buried:

At this point, instead of anxiously awaiting a big rain flow to see what sediment covers up the rocks, I am now very curious to see if a good flow clears off the sediment. And I wonder what kind of flow it will take to move the white rocks. Check back for updates on this ongoing experiment!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Heron on the restored bank of Swamp Creek

It was nice to see some animal life on the bank of the lower end of Swamp Creek this morning! There was a heron hanging out on the recently restored bank of the stream where it goes under Highway 522 at 80th.

What a crazy contrast - this stock still, silent bird right under the craziness of the morning commute and ongoing construction work. I love that we can see this in Kenmore.