Sammamish Disaster Preparedness Fair Oct. 15

City_of_SammamishSammamish will hold its annual Disaster Preparedness Fair Saturday, October 15, at City Hall from 9am to 3pm.

Details can be found here: Sammamish Disaster Preparedness Fair.

Several private and civic organizations will have displays in the Council Chambers and in the Courtyard, providing information residents need to survive disasters.

The principal focus is on earthquake preparedness, but other emergencies—such as downed power lines that can be dangerous—have been addressed in the past.

The City is the host but didn’t participate last year with a table of its own. It will this year.

Sammamish also was slow to participate in the Cascadia Rising emergency disaster drill last June, finally signing up after Sammamish Comment began asking questions about the City’s preparedness.

Since then, the new City Council (effective Jan. 1) and new City Manager (effective March 1) have undertaken numerous steps to bring the City to a state of preparedness.

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Drinking water contamination traced to EF&R, Issaquah says

A legal battle may be brewing between Issaquah and Eastside Fire & Rescue over damages to Issaquah drinking wells from highly toxic chemicals the city’s consultants say originated with the EF&R.

Issaquah has a conflict of interest and the City of Sammamish may also if Issaquah seeks damages from EF&R.

Two wells that provide drinking water for Issaquah residents were shut down briefly this summer from contamination of PFOS and PFOA, two toxic chemicals detected in the wells. The levels of toxicity were above Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Issaquah rushed to spend at least $1m to lease a filtering system to cleanse the water. The wells have been reactivated. Additional costs for consulting services continue.

Sammamish Plateau Water detected the chemicals at levels well below the EPA standards in nearby wells after conducting its own tests and hiring a consultant to assist.

Issaquah issued a press release yesterday in which it said the city and EF&R are working together to “further investigate potential sources of these PFCs.”

The city is cash-strapped and will likely make a claim against EF&R, Sammamish Comment is told.

Two members of the Issaquah City Council are on the board of EF&R, establishing a conflict of interest if Issaquah makes a claim for damages.

Two Sammamish city council members are on the EF&R board and a third is on the EF&R finance committee. Sammamish gets its fire service from EF&R, with taxpayers paying for this service. Sammamish City Council members thus could also be put into a position of a conflict of interest.

With two members of the EF&R board in a clear conflict of interest and two more in a potential conflict, the seven member fire board could be deprived of a quorum to decide how to settle any claim.

The Issaquah Press release:

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New water wars burbling in Sammamish

The water wars between the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District and Issaquah were entertaining. Despite the City of Sammamish watching this war, and becoming involved as an interested party, Sammamish city officials couldn’t resist approaching the Northeast Sammamish Sewer and Water District to invite a “discussion” about assuming the district.

To keep the players straight, here are the references we’ll use going forward:

Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District: “Plateau”.

City of Issaquah: “Issaquah”.

City of Sammamish: “City”.

Northeast Sammamish Sewer and Water District: “Northeast”.

Citizens for Sammamish: “C4S”.

Northeast went tilt over the City’s overture. Obviously having watched what was going on between Plateau and Issaquah, and the latter’s hostile takeover attempt of part of the Plateau’s assets and district, Northeast was paranoid. Not only did officials reject any call for “friendly” discussions, they fired up their customers, who flooded the City with emails and protests. Furthermore, Northeast budgeted $600,000 to defend the district against any attempt by the City to take over the district.

City officials seemed bewildered by Northeast’s reaction. We aren’t planning any move to assume Northeast, City officials protested. We just wanted to sit down and discuss the possibilities. A couple of City newsletters devoted a great deal of space to injured innocence.

Having watched the Plateau-Issaquah water wars (and participated in some of the negotiations to bring the wars to an end), I find it astounding that the City was so ham-handed in its timing to approach Northeast and even raise the issue when Plateau and Issaquah seemed headed for armageddon. Repeating, having become involved in talks as a neutral participant, so-to-speak, to resolve the dispute between Plateau and Issaquah, how could the City not understand the sensitivities of even raising the topic at that time with Northeast? It’s mind-boggling.

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“We all drink from the same glass of water:” Mayor Frisinger in defending plan that threatens Issaquah, Sammamish and Klahanie water supplies

That’s what she said May 6 to media and on Social Media.

““We all drink from the same glass, the citizens of Issaquah and Sammamish,” Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger said.” Press release dated May 6, 2013, on Issaquah City website.

What if that glass of water looks like this?

Issaquah’s plan to inject stormwater runoff without adequate pre-treatment proposed by the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District–threatening our drinking water aquifer that is immediately below the so-called LRIG into which the Mayor wants to inject stormwater–may not look this bad but it’s what you don’t see that will hurt you.

Fecal coliform (from bird and other animal poop), metal particles and contaminants contained in stormwater runoff from Issaquah Highlands are all in stormwater. Issaquah contends filtering it through the ground and the LRIG will be adequate. The Water District says more pre-treatment is needed. This is the crux of the battle going on between the city, the District and the Washington Department of Ecology right now. Ecology, inexplicably, is nearing approval of a Draft Permit to allow Issaquah to inject stormwater into the ground only nine feet from the District’s aquifer that serves 54,000 people mostly in Sammamish and Klahanie and including other portions of unincorporated King County and parts of Issaquah.

The Water District offered three times to co-fund a pre-treatment facility and Issaquah rejected each offer.

Frisinger says Issaquah is committed to protecting the aquifer. If this is true, you have to ask: why won’t the city work together with the Water District, which offers to co-fund a proper pre-treatment stormwater facility?

Issaquah plan threatens Sammamish, Klahanie water supply, lake water quality

A proposal by Issaquah to inject storm water from Issaquah Highlands into an aquifer threatens the drinking water supply for most of Sammamish residents.

This is the second assault on the aquifer, which the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District relies upon. I wrote about the first one December 18, 2012. In that case, the Issaquah City Council approved a plan called Lakeside development at the Highlands that will allow a storm water injection well right above a drinking water aquifer.

I wrote at the time something seemed pretty amiss:

The Council, which ultimately approved the agreement unanimously, said it was comfortable with the safeguards and alternatives. Several said they get their drinking water from the aquifer as well and are personally motivated to protect the aquifer. (Emphasis added.)

I’m personally uneasy. Having served on Sammamish City committees and commissions for eight years, I understand the process and thinking that went into this Agreement but I’m nonetheless concerned about the affect on the aquifer.

Now, it turns out Issaquah has applied for a permit with the State Department of Ecology to resume injection of storm water into the aquifer of substantially untreated water. The problem: untreated storm water from the Issaquah Highlands has fecal coliform (ie, bird and pet poop), heavy metal contaminants and a host of other bacteria. This threatens our drinking water. The aquifer serves most of Sammamish, in addition to parts of Issaquah and all of Klahanie. (Note to Klahanie residents: You’re in the Issaquah Potential Annexation Area. Welcome to your new landlords and stewards of your environment.)

[Read more about this issue at a new Water District website devoted strictly to this.]

More alarming: Ecology is poised to grant this permit. Ecology’s pending action is a stunning turn-about from its long history of protecting water. Furthermore, Ecology has been exerting extreme pressure on the City of Sammamish to control storm water runoff into Lake Sammamish, demanding that development runoff be controlled to pre-development conditions (ie, virgin forest). This is a nearly impossible demand in an urban area. While Low Impact Development can help dramatically, it’s impossible to feasibly return to pre-development conditions. The City of Sammamish and some citizens, many represented by the Citizens for Sammamish activist group, have been arguing with the City Council for years over the new, highly restrictive regulations demanded by Ecology. Regardless, treatment and control of polluted storm water is imperative. Why in the world would Ecology be so strict with the City of Sammamish and give Issaquah a pass?

While the permit application is pending, Issaquah is diverting untreated water into the North Fork of the Issaquah River, which flows into Lake Sammamish. This water pollution can accumulate and potential affect home values of lakefront homes (who wants to live with lakefront you can’t use?). The right thing to do would have been for Issaquah to treat the water in the first place–it’s chosen not to do so.

Now Ecology is ready to permit Issaquah to inject contaminated and polluted water into the aquifer. Also keep in mind that this very same storm water injection site was shut down by Ecology in 2008 because high levels of fecal coliform were detected in monitoring wells a short distance from the District’s drinking water wells. Issaquah has been trying to restart the injection of storm water ever since. The city is tired of the Water District’s objections to protect the water supply for 54,000 customers–most of whom reside in Sammamish–so Issaquah has decided to take over the part of the District and the three prime wells inside Issaquah’s boundaries in order to shut the District up and do what it wants with the storm water–the impact to Sammamish be damned.

The Sammamish City Council and City Manager are aware of the situation but so far have not protested either to Issaquah or to Ecology. I find this to be rather perplexing, since our City Council and our City Manager represent us residents (and voters) of Sammamish.

The Sammamish City Council meets Tuesday, May 7.

Here is the Water District’s press release:

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