City considers strategies for monitoring Ebright Creek

March 12, 2013

By Ari Cetron

The City Council will take a couple weeks to mull over how it should collect water quality data in Ebright Creek and what it might do with the information.

Public Works Director Laura Philpot laid out some possible options for the city.

The status quo involves the city spending about $7,500 per year on monitoring efforts. City officials could also take over monitoring being done by the group Friends of Pine Lake. If the group donates their equipment and volunteer’s time, it would end up costing the city about $4,000 annually. If not, there would be a one-time cost of $7,500 to purchase the equipment and then a $9,000 annual cost.

The third option would be to use the Water Quality Index – the same method used by the state Department of Ecology — at a cost of $5,400 annually.

Philpot said the third option was the best. Since the data would be the same as the state uses, the numbers would be easier to compare to other bodies of water in Washington. Philpot said it would generate the most meaningful data.

Councilwoman Nancy Whitten was quick to oppose the idea. She said the Water Quality Index does not provide in-depth numbers and questioned why Philpot would recommend it.

“Staff, I think, is biased on this,” Whitten said.

Whitten said that the cost difference for the more in-depth study might be worth it.

“The cost, to me, is not that huge if the benefits are there,” she said.

Other council members echoed Whitten’s comments.

Councilman John Curley suggested doing basic monitoring and then more in-depth studies every few years. Curley and others suggested that more important than monitoring the water quality would be finding ways to use the information.

Mayor Tom Odell agreed with Curley. Rather than allowing the data to sit in a binder on a shelf, he said the city should be looking for ways to improve the stream.

Sammamish is required to monitor water quality in Ebright Creek as a result of a settlement agreement between the city and the Lancaster Homeowners Association and the Friends of Pine Lake. The settlement stems from possible impacts caused by the construction of City Hall.

Sammamish does not monitor water quality in other streams.

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