"SK waters among the cleanest, dirtiest"

"South Kitsap's creeks and lakes run the gamut from clean to dirty, according to a 1999 Bremerton-Kitsap County Health District water-quality report released last Friday. The same goes for marine waters around these parts.Good news is, with the exception of the county park beach at Horseshoe Lake, the health district study found many of the swimming holes along South Kitsap lakes among the most pristine in the county. South Kitsap is generally a less-developed portion of the county, explained Scott Daniels, a water-quality specialist for the health district. That could be why South Kitsap lakes tend to be clean, he said, noting, too, that about half of the county's lakes are located in South Kitsap.Unfortunately, where there are people, there's pollution, he said.Daniels said the results of the health district's study are important because they can raise awareness about water quality and tell health officials where water-quality problems exist, and which ones need fixing.This strategy pinpointed two South Kitsap streams riddled with fecal coliform in 1998 and, by the next year, the creeks had been cleared up dramatically with help from health officials.The levels of fecal coliform in Karcher and Gorst creeks decreased by 430 percent and 380 percent, respectively, Daniels said. Karcher Creek cleaned up after Kitsap County Sewer District No. 5 repaired a broken sewer line near the stream and, when health district officials enforced the correction of failing septic systems in the Gorst Creek area, that stream cleaned up, too.While the report suggests health officials' efforts to clean up county waters has made a difference, Daniels said it's still too soon to tell, and there's much more work to be done.We need five years of data to really start pinpointing trends accurately, he said.South Kitsap lakesIn the case of Horseshoe Lake, Kitsap County's third most contaminated lake in 1999, the problem hasn't been caused by people or urban sprawl, so much as it has been caused by Canada geese, health officials say.The contamination at Horseshoe Lake has less to do with urban impact than with its resident Canada geese population, said Jim Zimny, another water-quality specialist for the health district.He doesn't have to tell Micah Coyle, or Kayla Suha about the waste Canada geese leave behind.On a recent Sunday, the two children and their families played about Horseshoe Lake's county park beach. Out for fun, the kids were quite offended by the floating fecal matter left in the wake of Canada geese.Said Coyle while testing the waters, Oooh, there's goose poo on my foot. And though the children ended up swimming for a while in the questionable waters, the primary topic of conversation was goose waste.The beach was not closed at the time of their swimming expedition.Health officials say they will continue to work with the South Kitsap Parks Department to scare or drive away the geese and, thus, their nasty waste.Despite Horseshoe Lake's bad news, Carney, Wicks and Wye lakes registered among the top five cleanest swimming beaches of the 22 tested.In general, health officials say Kitsap County lakes are clean. In 1998 and 1999, all 22 beaches tested met EPA standards for E. coli bacteria, based on the average of all results collected during the summer sampling period from May through September.Officials caution, however, that some lakes occasionally exceeded acceptable E. coli levels during last year's summer months, even if average levels remained acceptable.Not surprisingly, Kitsap County health officials closed Horseshoe Lake in July, and didn't open it again until the beginning of August when E. coli levels finally dropped.South Kitsap creeksAnnapolis Creek is the most contaminated stream in Kitsap County, health officials say, while Burley Creek is the fourth dirtiest, followed by Little Bear Creek. The 10th most contaminated stream in the county is Olalla Creek, health officials say.Meanwhile, data show the overall quality of creeks in the county significantly improved last year over 1998 and, 67 percent of all streams tested last year, met state standards set for fecal coliform bacteria.Annapolis remained in the poorest condition even though the fecal coliform bacteria levels in the system decreased since 1998. We are currently working with the sewer district to determine the source of the contamination at Annapolis Creek, Daniels said. Once that's done, Daniels said corrective action will be taken.The good news is, one of the cleanliest streams in the county is located in South Kitsap, as well. Anderson Creek is the third-cleanest steam in the county, according to the health district report, and its condition even improved over 1998 findings.Despite these milestones, four of the county's 10 most contaminated creeks in 1999, are located in South Kitsap, including Annapolis, Burley, Little Bear and Olalla creeks.Marine watersOf the 48 marine waters tested for fecal coliform in 1999, Port Orchard Bay - followed by Manchester and Rich Passage - was neither too dirty nor overly clean. The three areas figured in at 21st, 22nd and 23rd place, respectively, among the county's marine water.Meanwhile, health officials listed Ross Point and Gorst, Port Orchard and Retsil bays among the dirtiest in Kitsap County. They registered at 37th, 39th, 40th and 41st, respectively. All tested marine waters met the state water quality standard for fecal coliform and 18 water bodies had no detectable fecal bacteria, compared to 12 in 1998. "

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