Help Keep Lake Limerick free from pollution risks!
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BACKGROUND OF PROJECT.
Bio Recycling Inc. plans to build an 18-million-gallon wastewater lagoon which would contain wastewater from local septic tanks and water treatment systems. This lagoon features an emergency spillway on its south side, which would direct its overflow into a drainage into Cranberry Lake. A planned failure model also calls for the overflow to be directed towards Cranberry Lake.
POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACT OF PROJECT
Cranberry Lake, a 200+ acre body of water consisting of marsh-like and lake environment serves as the headwaters for a slightly smaller lake sitting to the east. An outflow channel from Cranberry Lake – aptly named Cranberry Creek – flows for roughly .52 miles eastward where it widens to become Lake Limerick.
Lake Limerick itself is a man-made lake, impounded by a dam which was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1966 as part of a private community development which centers around a nine-hole golf course and the amenities the lake itself provides. Over the course of the last fifty years, more than 1,100 homes have been built around the lake itself. Today, Lake Limerick (and subsequently, Cranberry Lake) provides the drinking water to those homes, plus two restaurants, a golf course, more than a dozen home-based businesses, a local fire district, and a grocery store.
It also serves as a recreational hotspot in the spring and summer months, in which hundreds take part in recreational fishing and swimming. A local parade and water show takes place on the lake each year.
WHY THE LAGOON MUST BE STOPPED.
Bio Recycling Inc. has a history of pollution, going back as far as the mid-2000s when inspections showed high levels of nitrites from treated wastewater. In 2007, inspections showed levels of nitrites that exceeded allowable limits set by the Washington State Department of Ecology. Wastewater from septic systems is treated with nitrites and high levels of lime to control odors, both of which are highly toxic to human and animal health in high concentrations. As the residents of Hinkley, California found out in the early 1990s, they found that storage of wastewater from natural gas production – being done in an identical manner – had dire consequences on human health, despite having been promised their water was clean. As a matter of fact, the fallout from the Hinkley disaster (and legal settlement from the litigation in that case) made Erin Brockovich a household name and cemented a legacy for the law firm to which she was employed at the time.
The project is being proposed in an area that sees the highest average for rainfall in Western Washington outside of the Olympic Rain Forest, and storage of the wastewater will be commenced when typical rainfall amounts are at their heaviest.
In December, 2007. A series of severe storms resulted in every mountain-fed river in the state overtopping their banks. Several of those rivers shattered previous flood records, among those being the Skokomish River (and its watershed), which sits just two miles to the west of the proposed site. In fact, the Skokomish River, a river in which sees typical flood intensity of 2,000 cubic feet per second, experienced an outflow of more than 29,000 cubic feet per second – a flow intensity which measured more than 20 times its previous peak flow volume. To the south, the Chehalis River’s flooding closed Interstate 5 – the largest north-south commerce arterial in Washington State – for over a week while engineers from WSDOT allowed the water to recede and to repair damage to the roadway.
The amount of precipitation in those 2007 storms, would’ve meant that Bio Recycling’s planned facility (if it existed in 2007) would’ve been overtopped and tens - perhaps hundreds - of thousands of gallons of wastewater would’ve spilled into the Cranberry Creek watershed. The impact would have resulted in the wide-scale pollution of a significant area of Mason County and one of Mason County’s largest rural communities.
As we’ve witnessed over the course of the last thirty years, what used to be “100-year floods” are actually happening every twenty years or so. It has been nearly eleven years since those 2007 floods, which means another catastrophic flooding event is right around the corner. In fact, the Skokomish River nearly tied the 2007 record in a 2009 flood, and came close to meeting it in a 2012 event under nearly identical circumstances to the 2007 event. And with the increasing frequency of those flood events, we cannot afford to have an 18-million-gallon septic lagoon built in our watershed.
In the worst case scenario, shall the entire retention lagoon fail, the impact will have far reaching consequences beyond just Lake Limerick. Once it exits Lake Limerick, Cranberry Creek follows a path through the Lake Limerick community for roughly one mile before meandering through thick forest and a small neighborhood near Catfish Lake. The mouth of Cranberry Creek drains right into Oakland Bay, less than a mile from one of Taylor Shellfish's premiere geoduck and oyster farm beds. If the entire retention pond were to fail, the economic and environmental impacts would be far reaching and devastating.
Anyone who has waterfront homes on Oakland Bay would see their property values plummet. Anyone who would be forced to move out of Lake Limerick or the areas affected would result in the county losing property tax revenue.
In light of all of those factors, the risks are far too great to bear.
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