Commissioners ponder Hood Canal fix

All three Kitsap County commissioners met with their counterparts from Mason and Jefferson County on Friday to discuss the necessity of current legislation affecting Hood Canal’s oxygenation.

The stated purpose of the meeting was to maintain control of a local issue and prevent the enactment of legislation prior to the completion of further study of the matter.

Mason County Commissioner Tim Sheldon, who is also a state senator, said the legislative approach to the matter more represented a “stream of consciousness” than a well-executed plan.

“The legislation is not organized in an orderly fashion,” he said. “It overlaps with other ideas and lacks any clear definition. People are reacting to the issue without defining the problems first. This leads to a fatal flaw.”

While no formal action was taken at the meeting, the attendees voiced a preference for a “study bill” rather than one that mandated action.

“We should put this on hold for at least a year,” said South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel. “Passing legislation prior to studying the matter could be very dangerous.”

The situation in question is a low-oxygen “dead zone” in parts of Hood Canal that won’t support plant or fish life. About 25 agencies are currently studying the issue, including the State Department of Ecology, the University of Washington and the Kitsap County Health District.

The agencies, however, do not often share information which results in confusion and overlapped efforts.

In addition to the Kitsap Commissioners and Sheldon the meeting was attended by Jefferson County Commissoners Phil Johnson and David Sullican and Mason County Commissioners Lynda Ring Erickson and Jayni Kamin.

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