Update (09 November, 2012) On Thursday evening, November 08, 2012, voter-ousted Island County Commissioner Angie Homola made it clear as to why the voters made a correct choice in removing her from office. Donning her Commissioner’s hat while attending a public presentation of the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Groups (SFEG) Swan Lake Assessment and Design study, Angie misleadingly told the entire room of public attendees that potential salt-water intrusion was simply NOT AN ISSUE in the area of Swan Lake claiming that she had been TOLD by the Island County hyrdro-geologist (who, of course, was not at the meeting) that this was the case.
As an earlier posted comment to this article has clearly shown:
“The county’s own water management plan, Critical Aquifer Recharge Area says this Swantown area aquifer area is highly susceptible (Fig. 7). The USGS and in the Preliminary Map of Revised Seawater Intrusion Policy, this maps (Fig. 11) show this area as High and Very High for salt intrusion. Swan lake is only high, surrounded by very high, the reduction in risk is probably due to the constant fresh water drainage refilling the lake.”
The Whidbey News’ Times suggestion to voters to REMOVE Angie Homola from office was spot-on when they said “she is unflinching in her opinions about taxes, planning and law enforcement and other issues that are contrary to her constituents’ beliefs.”
Below is a letter which has been sent to all three Island County Commissioners:
“PLEASE do everything you can to STOP Island County Government and to STOP Angie Homola’s Swan Lake Preservation Group from doing anything that potentially and/or purposely increases the salinity of Boss/Swan Lake through so-called Shoreline “Restoration”: Specifically, I refer to plans for map locations 56, 57, and 58.
The so-called “restoration” plan for the big giant puddle of rain water that people have begun to call Swan Lake is a serious threat to the underground fresh water sources out here in the West Beach area: it would turn a body of fresh water now feeding underground aquifers into a body of salt water! Angie Homola has a serious conflict of interest in this issue because of her long history with the Swan Lake Preservation Group despite her being the Commissioner for my district.
Moreover, a conflict and or duplicity of interest in this issue extends beyond Commissioner Angie Homola’s simply being a (founding?) member of the Swan Lake Preservation Group. It also extends to Commissioner Helen Price-Johnson in that both Helen Price-Johnson and Angie Homola have fought City of Oak Harbor Urban Growth Area plans westward, towards to the area of Boss / Swan Lake. They, along with the Whidbey Environmental Action Network did so based on the premise that such plans would somehow threaten that fresh body of water and the area surrounding it. Somehow, however, these two same island County Commissioners now perceive zero problem with approving a so-called shoreline “restoration” plan that would obliterate a fresh water lake entirely, turn it into a free-flow-tidal salt water lagoon, and thus essentially move Puget Sound 1/4 mile inland?
Ironically, even the Director / President of the recently created Whidbey West Water Association, Jerry Pitsch, is also on record speaking at local Government events about the alleged “importance” of the Boss / Swan Lake area to salmon “restoration”, a position that certainly appears to place even our own citizen-owned water association at cross-purposes with the goal of preserving the sources of fresh water that we depend upon for daily use!
So, we have a situation where people in positions of leadership and control out here (since Angie Homola lives out this way, too and also uses this water system) who apparently seem more than willing to spend public $$ to threaten our fresh water sources because they want to “restore” Boss / Swan lake to some PRESUMED “aboriginal or pre-European settlement conditions”, and that giant puddle of storm water is now even being referred to as a “coastal lagoon” in some Island County documents: These folks PRESUME a great deal!
“(31) “Restore,” “restoration” or “ecological restoration” means the reestablishment or upgrading of impaired ecological shoreline processes or functions. This may be accomplished through measures including, but not limited to, revegetation, removal of intrusive shoreline structures and removal or treatment of toxic materials. Restoration does not imply a requirement for returning the shoreline area to aboriginal or pre-European settlement conditions.” WAC 173-26-020(31)
While others will rightfully so question the cost of this project compared to actual NEEDS in Island County (e.g. restoration of law enforcement personnel to levels from a few years back), I hope you can see that these proposed parts of the Shoreline Management Plan are also 100% at cross-purposes with the present NEED of hundreds of homeowners to be free from salt water intrusion induced by Government action that may do irreversible severe damage to our only presently available source of fresh water.
Analysis of the costs associated with connecting residents of the Whidbey West Water Association to the nearest alternate sources of fresh water suggests about $1 million to do so. Will Island County Government fund these costs AFTER shoreline “restoration” has turned Boss / Swan Lake into a salt water aquarium and AFTER Boss / Swan Lake is converted from a body of fresh water to a body of salt water, or will the WA State Dept. of Ecology promise to fund those water connections for us instead? Oh, and while at it, will the Navy (whose pipe we would likely have to connect to along Golf Course Road) and/or the City of Oak Harbor (from whom the Navy buys the water) agree to sell this water? If so, can you please get all that IN WRITING in some ironclad agreement from all those folks BEFORE Island County floods Boss/Swan Lake with salt water and makes salt-water free-flow back and forth with each tide?
This situation is clearly an example where the Precautionary Principle needs to be in play: “The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.””
Island County SHORELINE MASTER PROGRAM web page.
Also applicable: see Swan Lake Engineering Feasibility Assessment at the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
“Angie Homola’s Swan Lake Preservation Group wants to use Island County’s Shoreline “Restoration” plan to turn Boss/Swan Lake into a body of salt water, thus moving Puget Sound inland and seriously risking salt water intrusion into the fresh water wells of residents living in the vicinity of West Beach, including the area just south of where the Navy has just started drawing fresh water from wells to water the Navy Golf Course.
On one hand, Commissioner Homola, Commissioner Helen Price-Johnson and the Whidbey Environmental Action Network have vociferously fought Urban Growth Area expansion westward from Oak Harbor on the premise that the area around Boss / Swan Lake is environmentally sensitive. Contrarily, this same trio has now apparently taken the stance that, while additional storm water running into Boss/Swan Lake would be problematic, flooding that area with twice-daily tidal salt water at taxpayer expense would be peachy keen.
Never mind that doing so would create a potentially serious risk of salt water intrusion into surrounding well water. That would simply mean that members of the newly formed Whidbey West Water Association would either have to purchase reverse-osmosis systems to desalinate sea water or spend about $1 million to connect themselves to the new Navy piping recently installed along Golf Course Road. Even the Whidbey West Water Association President, Jerry Pitsch, is on record at public forums espousing the “importance” of Boss / Swan Lake for salmon “restoration”. I am hoping some real change comes this November election season.”
At an Island County Commissioners’ hearing on this issue on Monday evening, October 15th, 2012, Island County Commissioner Angie Homola claimed she had zero conflict of interest on this issue as an elected Island County Commissioner. One must wonder exactly WHAT it would EVER take for Angie Homola EVER to perceive herself as having ANY conflict of interest on ANY public matter. For example, at a web page titled Swan Lake Engineering Feasibility and Design (06-AMN-06-011) is a document titled Feb 2008 WRAC update – Swan Lake Watershed Preservation Group from February 2008 delineating Angie Homola as one of two primary contacts for the “Swan Lake Restoration and Preservation” Project and listing her as an official representative of the Swan Lake Preservation Group, well before she was elected as an Island County Commissioner.