Scratch the itch | Editorial

The “toxic algae” situation at Kitsap Lake requires more than a scratch to ease the itch, or worse, gotten from the tainted waters. It requires new thinking.

The recent bloom of toxic blue-green algae that has kept most lake-goers out of the water recently is beaming example of the importance of the new planning rules proposed for Kitsap County’s remand-driven rewrite of Urban Growth Area boundaries and rules.

Kitsap Lake’s shoreline is choked with homes, apartments and in three cases entire neighborhoods sloping to the shore. Except for its tiny southern reach, the entire lake is subject to the spills and hydrologic abuse of suburban life poorly planned to retain anything resembling a natural state in or around the lake. It’s the same problem that befell both Kitsap Lake and Long Lake last fall. Though long lake is larger on the surface and faces less destiny, it’s total water volume is less and therefore easier to tip out of balance.

The blue-green algae that has closed both lakes at times is not an algae, but rather a bacteria that grows well in the phosphate rich environments of the lakes. It’s illness inducing existence shows an imbalance caused largely by the sewage “spilled” into the lake each year mixing with runoff of lawns manicured by a host of nitrogen rich chemical compounds; and whatever the creek feeding the lake picks up along its course from its source below two gravel mines. It’s the result of unchecked human density.

The public health situation illustrates the dilemma faced by planners regulating population density while trying to retain the “rural quality of life” so many seek in Central Kitsap County. Today’s condition of the lake also shows how little a community is willing to do on an individual basis to make it happen.

Along with the proposed reductions in homes per acre, perhaps the most long term beneficial idea proposed in the new UGA plans is to no longer allow temporary septic systems in housing developments within UGAs that are expected to one day connect to utilities. Even better for the long run is the idea of excluding all wetlands and waterways from the boundaries.

The next public meeting on the proposal is set for Aug. 27.


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