FOLLOWUP: The birds are back at cleaned-up White Center pond

November 24th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news, Wildlife 1 Comment »

Thanks to Gill Loring for the photos from the White Center pond cleaned up after a cooking-oil spill, showing the birds were back just a few days after the first 13 cleaned-up ducks were returned. No way to know if any are the same; wildlife authorities told us they were not banding the cleaned-up birds or otherwise tracking them.

On Monday, one neighbor reported seeing the oiled great blue heron that as of last check hadn’t yet been rescued. The Department of Ecology says that if you see any wildlife in distress – please call this hotline: 800-22-BIRDS.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

VIDEO: Rescued birds go free after White Center pond oil cleanup

November 18th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Environment, Steve Cox Memorial Park, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: Rescued birds go free after White Center pond oil cleanup

In our video, you see post-cleanup freedom for 13 of the birds captured at the oil-contaminated White Center stormwater-retention pond. A team from PAWS brought them back to the area and joined state and county reps in opening the carriers and watching them go free. We first reported on the pond problem a week and a half ago; last Friday, the state announced that a WC food-manufacturing business, La Mexicana, had taken responsibility. They say the pond is now clean enough for the birds to return to it safely, but they were released Wednesday morning across the street at Steve Cox Memorial Park. As you can see in the video, all 13 brought back by PAWS were mallards; crews have captured 78 in all, a mix of mallards and Canada geese. Four birds did not survive, including two that were euthanized, according to the state Ecology Department.

Ecology spokesperson Larry Altose says oil-recovery efforts wrapped up at the pond Tuesday, as contractor National Response Corporation removed the last cleanup materials. NRC’s subcontractor Focus Wildlife captured the oiled birds and, Altose says, “housed and treated the birds at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society Wildlife Center in Lynnwood,” where, he adds, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife “supplied a bird rescue trailer to provide extra space for the effort.”

Of the 61 birds still in treatment after Wednesday’s release, he adds, 27 are mallards and 34 are geese. All four of the birds that died were mallards. A WDFW spokesperson confirmed that this is the largest bird-rescuing operation in our state in some time, in terms of spill recovery.

Meantime, as for the birds in the first release …

… we last saw them taking a few test flights around the field. If you see oiled or distressed birds, WDFW asks, call 800-22-BIRDS, but don’t “approach or handle the wildlife,” the state asks, adding that “WDFW asks dog and cat owners in the area to keep their pets under control, as oiled birds are less able to escape from animal attacks.”

P.S. In addition to reporting to the state, the federal EPA also tells us they are interested in information about environmental violations – here’s how to report them. (You can also call the local office directly at 206-553-8306.)

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

La Mexicana takes responsibility for pond oil, says state Ecology Department; 50 birds being cared for, one euthanized

November 13th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news, Wildlife 4 Comments »

(November 8th WCN/WSB photo)
One week after dozens of gallons of cooking oil fouled a White Center stormwater-retention pond, coating waterfowl with oil, the local company La Mexicana has taken responsibility, the state Ecology Department just announced:

A food products company has voluntarily accepted responsibility for an accidental cooking oil spill that flowed through storm drains into a nearby stormwater pond.

La Mexicana, Inc., based in the White Center area, has discovered that the oil came from one of its facilities. The company has agreed to pay for cleaning up the spill and rescuing ducks and geese affected by the oil.

The Washington Department of Ecology has been coordinating the response effort, in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, which owns the pond. A person using a walking path along the pond reported seeing oil on the water and oiled birds nearby late Friday afternoon.

“La Mexicana has made our home in White Center since 1955,” said William Fry, general manager of the business. “We care deeply about our community and our environment. We are committed to protecting our natural resources through the continuous improvement of our processes, products, and services. We love our neighborhood pond and will do our part to assist in its complete restoration.”

Company launched investigation

La Mexicana began an internal review after hearing about the spill and that it involved cooking oil. The company determined that some of the contents of a partially full container of clean salad oil, used in the production of baked goods, accidentally spilled during transport on the night of Oct. 30 at one of the firm’s bakeries, located on 16th Ave. SW. Part of the spilled oil – as much as 200 gallons – entered the county storm drain system on SW 100th St.

The company made this determination on Thu., Nov. 12 and immediately reported it to Ecology, offering its full cooperation with the response and investigation. Ecology followed up with its own investigation, and verified that the accident at the company is the source of the spill to the pond.

Even cooking oil impacts environment

Cooking and other edible oils, while less toxic to wildlife than petroleum products, still cause environmental harm. When birds contact the oil, it coats their feathers so that the animals lose insulation and buoyancy. Oil damages habitat for other aquatic life, reducing oxygen levels and creating physical impacts on the water surface and shoreline.

Ecology last week contracted with National Response Corp. (NRC) to clean oil from the pond. Crews succeeded in preventing oil from draining out of the pond, which flows into nearby Hicklin Lake. Only a few pockets of oil now remain on the pond’s surface, and NRC crews continue to tend containment boom and cleanup materials in those areas.

Wildlife rescue continues

A sub-contractor, Focus Wildlife International, has captured a total of 51 oiled birds and has taken them to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society’s Wildlife Center in Lynwood, where Focus is providing treatment. WDFW has moved its bird rescue trailer to the PAWS facility to provide additional treatment capacity.

One duck was euthanized due to head injuries likely due to an animal attack. Sixteen Canada geese and 34 mallard ducks are receiving treatment at the center. Eleven of these have received cleansings and will remain under the care of Focus Wildlife until they are ready to be released.

Other oiled birds may still be in a fairly wide area around White Center and nearby communities. WDFW asks the public to help in two ways:

* If you see oiled wildlife, please leave it be and call 1-800-22-BIRDS (1-800-222-4737). At the message prompt, give the location, time and a description of the animal’s condition.

* If you own a dog or cat, take extra care to maintain control of your pet. Oiled birds may not be able to escape when chased by animals.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

FOLLOWUP: 14 birds rescued, cleanup continues @ oil-contaminated White Center pond

November 9th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news, Wildlife Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: 14 birds rescued, cleanup continues @ oil-contaminated White Center pond

(Canada goose captured for cleanup, photographed on Sunday)

On the third day of cleanup at an oil-contaminated White Center stormwater-retention pond, we’ve just obtained the newest information from state Ecology Department spokesperson Larry Altose:

Workers made progress on Saturday and Sunday, rescuing oiled waterfowl and removing oil from the pond near 13th Avenue Southwest and Southwest 100th Street in unincorporated King County.

The Washington Department of Ecology is coordinating the response, in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. Ecology has hired a spill response contractor and a wildlife rescue organization for the cleanup.

The spilled material appears to be about 50 to 100 gallons cooking oil that entered the pond via the county stormwater drainage system. County and Ecology staff have been tracing storm drains to search for the source of the spill. No additional oil has entered the lake since a citizen first reported the spill late Friday afternoon.

Cooking and other edible oils, while less toxic to wildlife, still cause environmental harm. When birds contact the oil it coats the feathers so that the animals lose insulation and buoyancy. Oil damages habitat for other aquatic life, reducing oxygen levels and creating physical impacts on the water surface and shoreline.

Crews from Focus Wildlife International have captured 14 oiled birds, four mallard ducks and 10 Canada geese. The birds received initial treatment near the scene in the organization’s special trailer. They were transported for further treatment at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society’s Wildlife Rescue Center in Lynnwood.

Workers hope to capture approximately 20 other oiled birds, some of which have flown to other ponds, lakes or fields in the area. No wildlife deaths have been reported.

Meanwhile, other workers continue to tend oil spill cleanup materials placed in the pond to collect the oil, which has spread into a slick over much of the surface. Crews succeeded in preventing oil from draining out of the pond, which flows into nearby Hicklin Lake.

The cleanup has reduced the amount of oil seen on the pond over the past two days. Ecology’s contractor will measure the amount of oil recovered in cleanup materials to better determine the size of the spill.

The on-site response effort, which involved 25 people on Saturday and 18 on Sunday, continues to step down to about 9 responders today.

(Spill responders, photographed on Sunday)
Our first report, on Saturday, is here; our Sunday followup is here. As we’ve noted previously, this county-owned area of unincorporated King County had already been the subject of extensive cleanup efforts – focused on the land, rather than the water, because of problems with encampments and drug use during the non-rainy months – here’s a report from last month, published on our partner site White Center Now.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

UPDATE: Birds struggling with oiled feathers after cooking-oil spill in White Center pond

November 7th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news, Wildlife 3 Comments »

(Photos added 5:40 pm)
FIRST REPORT, 3:19 PM: Cleanup and rescue efforts are under way after more than a dozen birds were found struggling with oiled feathers after a spill in a White Center pond. A reader texted this photo:

And King County has sent this news release:

Crews are responding Saturday afternoon to an oil spill discovered in a King County stormwater retention pond in White Center.

An estimated 20 to 50 gallons of what is believed to be cooking oil was found floating in the pond, which sits along 13th Avenue Southwest at Southwest 100th Street in unincorporated King County. Lab analysis of the oil will determine its exact composition.

Employees with the Water and Land Resources Division (WLRD) of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks were at the pond this morning, along with Washington Department of Ecology spill response personnel, to assess the spill and determine its source.

An oil-spill response team from NRC Environment was also on site this morning to contain and clean up the oil from the pond. A crew trained in cleaning wildlife was on its way to the pond to capture and clean the estimated 20 waterfowl that appeared to have been in contact with the oily water.

Stormwater system experts with WLRD will look into how the oil got into the retention pond, which accepts runoff from the surrounding neighborhood and helps clean stormwater runoff before it continues downstream to Hicklin Lake.

Shorelines along the White Center pond system have been a focus of cleanup efforts, as previously reported here, but usually the problems have been on the shore, not in the water.

5:57 PM UPDATE: We’re just back from the pond, where we talked with a Department of Ecology rep; others on the scene include NRC (spill response) and Focus Wildlife, the contractor there to help with the birds. While we were there, they captured one Canada goose that had been wandering in busy SW 102nd on the south side of the scene, apparently unable to fly because of the oil.

They found out about the oil because of a nearby resident who watches the area and often photographs birds; they haven’t traced the source yet but because of its smell and consistency, they’re fairly certain it’s cooking oil. What looks like a white boom around the edges of the pond is actually absorbent material intended to soak up anything that can’t be cleaned up.

The responders were going to work until it got dark and then return at first light tomorrow. The rescued birds were going to be warmed in a truck on site, and then taken to PAWS for rehabilitation. Besides the wandering goose, we saw a group of ducks milling on the sidewalk along the pond’s western side; the Ecology rep said they’d been there all day.

Most of the oil, he added, was on the north end of the pond.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Burn ban’s over as of Saturday afternoon

January 3rd, 2015 Tracy Posted in Environment, Health, White Center news Comments Off on Burn ban’s over as of Saturday afternoon

Update from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, as announced earlier today – you can use your fireplace/woodstove again:

Effective immediately, all burn bans are being lifted in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, as well as Darrington. With the help of rain and wind, air pollution levels everywhere dropped to GOOD or lower Moderate last night.

While agency forecasters do expect only light winds during the day today and into tonight, an approaching weather system should increase winds and rain late tonight and into Sunday. This will again help disperse our air pollution and keep levels low for the next 2-3 days.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency would like to thank everyone who switched to alternative sources of heat instead of burning wood during these bans. Children, the elderly, and people with chronic respiratory health problems especially appreciate your efforts.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

‘Rising air pollution’ brings Stage 1 burn ban, countywide

January 1st, 2015 Tracy Posted in Environment, Weather, White Center news Comments Off on ‘Rising air pollution’ brings Stage 1 burn ban, countywide

A Stage 1 burn ban is now in effect for all of King County, as announced by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, because of “stagnant weather conditions and rising air pollution.” It’s expected to continue at least until tomorrow. Here’s what a Stage 1 burn ban means you can’t (and can) do:

* No burning is allowed in wood-burning fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves or fireplace inserts. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled.

* The only exception is if the homeowner has a previously approved ‘No Other Adequate Source of Heat’ designation from the Clean Air Agency

* No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.

* Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

* It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.

Whenever the burn ban is lifted, we’ll publish an update here on WCN.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

No more burn ban in King County, for now

December 2nd, 2014 Tracy Posted in Environment, Health, White Center news Comments Off on No more burn ban in King County, for now

In case you were hoping to use your fireplace or woodstove sometime soon – it’s now OK again. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has lifted the King County burn ban as of this afternoon – no current restrictions.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Stage 2 burn ban in effect for King County

November 19th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Environment, Health, White Center news Comments Off on Stage 2 burn ban in effect for King County

Until 6 am tomorrow, no fireplace or woodstove use unless it’s your main source of heat – a Stage 2 Burn Ban just took effect at noon. Details here.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Interested in solar power? Solarize Southwest is launching

July 3rd, 2014 Tracy Posted in Environment, sustainability, White Center news Comments Off on Interested in solar power? Solarize Southwest is launching

A new incentive campaign for residential solar power is headed this way. Here’s the announcement we received about Solarize Southwest:

Solar energy is currently powering hundreds of Seattle homes, and residents of West Seattle, White Center, Georgetown, Burien and other southwest neighborhoods are about to get a special opportunity to add their rooftops to our city’s growing solar array. Through a nonprofit-led program called Solarize Washington, homes and small businesses can qualify for special pricing and take advantage of many incentives that make solar installations more affordable than ever.

Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (Northwest SEED) and Seattle City Light are working with several community groups to launch Solarize Southwest, a solar energy education and installation program that starts today and runs through October. The program will be co-led by a community coalition of local volunteers, which will spearhead neighborhood outreach. Supporting organizations include Sustainable West Seattle and Sustainable Burien.

The campaign features a group-buy program that provides a streamlined process for residents and small businesses to purchase solar systems for a discounted price. Participants learn how solar photovoltaics (PV) works, how it is installed, what tax and production incentives are available to bring the price down, and how low-interest financing can spread out the cost. The limited-time campaign intends to install nearly one megawatt of solar energy in southwest Seattle and Burien by the end of 2014.

Through a competitive bidding process, community volunteers selected Puget Sound Solar and Artisan Electric as the project’s solar installation team. These contractors will offer solar systems at discounted rates to project participants.

Solarize Southwest will be the tenth campaign of Northwest SEED’s Solarize Washington program. To date, Solarize Washington campaigns have resulted in over 2 MW of new solar capacity, over 2,000 people educated through public workshops, 475 residents who installed solar on their homes, and more than $12 million injected into the local solar economy. The last Solarize campaign, Central/Southeast Seattle, was so successful that 885 kW of solar photovoltaics was installed on the grid and over 620 people attended workshops. Solarize Southwest is the third campaign sponsored by Seattle City Light, and momentum is already building to make this campaign even more successful than the last.

Registration for Solarize Southwest is open to Seattle and Burien residents who live in the geographic area bordered by downtown Seattle to the north, I-5 to the east, and within Seattle City Light service territory. Free educational workshops will be held on Jul 19, Jul 24, Aug 9, Aug 26, Sept 10, Sept 17, and Oct 4. For more information and to pre-register for a workshop, visit solarizewa.org.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Free shredding on June 7th White Center Spring Clean Day during PB&J Textiles open house

May 29th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Businesses, Environment, White Center news Comments Off on Free shredding on June 7th White Center Spring Clean Day during PB&J Textiles open house

If you have something to shred, you’ll be able to do that for free June 7th at PB&J Textiles, now open at the former South End Florist location at 10728 16th SW. They’re offering free shredding 9 am-1 pm that day in honor of White Center Spring Clean Day, and as part of an open-house event:

Bring (up to 4 boxes per person) of paper you would like to have securely shredded. In addition to the shredding, we’ll be open to show the community all the great things PB&J brings to White Center. Plus, stop in for a special PB&J ice cream cone from Full Tilt Ice Cream. We’ll have goodie bags, drawings and other fun activities.

Here’s a Facebook event you can join if you’ll need a reminder!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Burn ban rising to Stage 2 this afternoon

November 25th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Environment, Health, Weather, White Center news Comments Off on Burn ban rising to Stage 2 this afternoon

(Also published on partner sites West Seattle Blog and The South Park News)

As of 2 pm, King County will be under a Stage 2 burn ban, elevated from Sunday’s announcement. Here’s what the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency says that means:

*No burning is allowed in ANY wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves or fireplace inserts (certified or uncertified) or pellet stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home’s only adequate source of heat.

*No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.

*Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

*It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage 2 burn ban.

This might not last long – breezes up to 15 mph are in the forecast for tomorrow, and possible rain starting Thursday night.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Stage 1 burn ban taking effect as of 2 pm today

November 24th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Environment, Health, Weather, White Center news Comments Off on Stage 1 burn ban taking effect as of 2 pm today

(Also published on partner sites West Seattle Blog and The South Park News)

You’ve probably noticed, maybe even felt the effects of, the stagnant, murky air. It’s just led the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to announce a Stage 1 burn ban for King County as of 2 pm today. Here’s how the agency explains that type of burn ban:

*No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home’s only adequate source of heat.

*No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires, and the use of fire pits and chimineas.

*Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

It is OK to use natural gas, propane, pellet and EPA-certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.

More info? Go here. As for the weather – the long-range forecast doesn’t include rain any sooner than Friday night.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friends of Hicklin Park seek new grant to ‘increase the effectiveness of our Floating Islands’

September 17th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news 2 Comments »

Two months after Hicklin Lake got its first “floating islands,” its neighborhood advocates are pursuing a grant to make them more effective. Here’s their update:

Friends of Hicklin Lake are a small group of neighbors formed in 2004; our primary goal is to have clean water in our lake for the safety and health of our children, students and the community, including visitors from other areas. The following information shows how we are one step closer to our goal.

Hicklin Lake is located within Lakewood Park, next to Cascade Middle School and Technology Access Foundation Learning Center. This lake has a long history of polluted waters caused by inappropriate diversion of drainage that occurred in the mid 1960’s: all of the Salmon Creek Basin containing 750 water shed acres of drainage was diverted into 4 ½ acre Hicklin Lake, which has no natural outlet. Consequently pumps are required to keep the lake from flooding and unfiltered drainage is being pumped out of the lake and into an old government sewer line that discharges into Puget Sound. Historically, prior to the drainage diversions, water was directed through Longfellow Creek; the reason for the changes is unknown.

This year, 2013, a grant of $50,000 from the State Department of Ecology provided funding for two Floating Islands, (man made wetlands), containing a total of 1200 square feet. One manufacturer recommended 5,000 square feet for a lake of this size and the amount of drainage it receives. However it is at least a start in the recovery of Hicklin Lake’s poor water quality, which suffers not only from poor decisions about drainage, but from the loss of its original natural wetland, paved over to provide the west parking lot of the park. King County is funding research for two years on the effectiveness of the Floating Islands for water clarity and water quality improvement.

Friends of Hicklin Lake discovered this technology, and held meetings with the community and staff of King County to pursue the Floating Island technology project starting in 2011 (Floating Islands were launched July 2013). These Floating Islands also provide shelter and food for fish and the vegetation absorbs Carbon Dioxide and gives off oxygen, a win/win natural system.
We have now applied for a Grant through the Rose Foundation which handles the Puget Sound grass roots Grants for small groups that may be mostly volunteers.

Our purpose is to install three under water air diffusers powered by an air compressor located in the existing pump house. These aerators, strategically placed in the lake, will greatly increase the effectiveness of our Floating Islands by mixing the colder heavily polluted bottom layer of lake water with the upper, warmer water, and pushing a smorgasbord of contaminates toward the microbes, which are actively colonizing the roots of plants on the islands even as we write this. Recall that the microbes are the work horse of the islands, digesting pollutants. Also, aeration provides life-giving oxygen to fish and water creatures, and helps reduce Algae formations. An advantage of this particular system is that air lines are placed in the lake floor, but no electric line is directly in the water, thereby adding a safety feature. The water that is eventually pumped to Puget Sound should be much cleaner by the use of the Islands and the aerators, working in concert.

The Floating Islands require very little maintenance and the aeration system costs for power and maintenance is minimal for the results.

Friends thank all the local organizations that provided approval letters to help pursue the grant for the Floating Islands, proving once again that communities working together can make positive changes.

To help inform our community on various concerns and projects for Lakewood Park / Hicklin Lake, Friends of Hicklin Lake are providing a monthly E-Mail news letter titled Hicklin Lake Informer.

Dick Thurnau and Marcia Wollam
Friends of Hicklin Lake
hdthurnau@yahoo.com

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

‘Floating islands’ now in place on White Center’s Hicklin Lake

July 16th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news 2 Comments »

After years of work to get Hicklin Lake’s water-quality issues addressed, it’s a triumphant day for Dick Thurnau and his group Friends of Hicklin Lake – its two new 600-square-foot “floating islands” were installed today. As explained by the county, “Covered with native wetland vegetation, the islands are designed so that the plants’ roots extend below the waterline. The roots and accompanying biofilm take up excess nutrients from the water column – one of the main causes of the ongoing algae blooms that bedevil the small lake’s water quality.”

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

King County update on Hicklin Lake ‘floating islands’

May 21st, 2013 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news 4 Comments »

An update from King County on the Hicklin Lake floating-islands project – which now is described as including two “floating islands” to be installed within the next few months. The big news in this update is that the contract has been awarded:

King County is moving forward with its innovative plan supported by the local community for cleaning up Hicklin Lake by using vegetated floating islands to improve water quality.

Seattle-based Herrera Environmental, representing the international firm Biomatrix Water, will design and install two 600-square-foot floating islands early this summer in Hicklin Lake, which is located in Lakewood Park in the White Center community.

Covered with native wetland vegetation, the islands are designed so that the plants’ roots extend below the waterline. The roots and accompanying biofilm take up excess nutrients from the water column – one of the main causes of the ongoing algae blooms that bedevil the small lake’s water quality.

The project is being managed by the Water and Land Resources Division (WLRD) of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, and was made possible through a combination of surface water funds and a $50,000 grant from the Washington Department of Ecology.

Hicklin Lake water quality has been a concern for years, with a history of harmful algae blooms that have posed potential health threats to people, pets and wildlife.

The plan for installing the floating islands isn’t the only step King County has taken to improve water quality in Hicklin Lake. Staff from WLRD have been tracking down and eliminating illegal and inadvertent sewer connections that discharge pollutants into the stormwater system that flows into the small lake, as well as updating and improving the stormwater infrastructure that serves the area.

The county says installation is likely to happen in July.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Earth Day in action: Greening and cleaning White Center wetland

April 22nd, 2013 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news, Wildlife 2 Comments »

A beautiful Earth Day at the White Center Pond wetlands! Thanks to Gill for sharing photos, including a Washington Conservation Corps member who was out with a group doing cleanup and planting as part of ongoing restoration work here.

Some of the local wildlife posed with the new plantings, too:

The mallards (above) were joined by Canada geese:

The pond is not only a functional wetland, but also helps the area handle stormwater.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Floating Islands in Hicklin Lake: Informational celebration April 24

March 20th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news 2 Comments »

Just out of the WCN inbox:

April 24, 6:30-8:30 pm, Friends of Hicklin Lake invites you to a community celebration on Floating Islands technology for Hicklin Lake at Lakewood Park. The event starts at 6:30 PM (refreshments) and at 7 PM we’ll have a discussion and updates on the Floating Island project. We believe that this technology will improve the water quality condition for fish, wildlife and humans, as well as provide beautification to the lake.

The group has been campaigning for years for a solution for the lake’s water-quality problems, and King County recently announced it’s on board to help make the “floating islands” happen. The April 24th event in Lakewood Park is at the Technology Access Foundation‘s learning center.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friends of Hicklin Lake’s long-sought ‘floating islands’ finally in sight

February 25th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Environment, White Center news 1 Comment »

In a years-long fight to improve the water quality of the lake they steward, Friends of Hicklin Lake leaders have been most recently working to get King County to procure “floating islands” – and finally everything’s a go, with installation just months away, according to this county announcement:

Help is on the way for Hicklin Lake – the small lake with big water quality problems in King County’s Lakewood Park.

In addition to the ongoing work of finding and eliminating illegal and inadvertent sewer connections that discharge pollutants into the stormwater system that flows into the lake, this year King County will experiment with technology that uses floating “islands” of vegetation to capture excess nutrients in the water that lead to Hicklin Lake’s water quality problems.

Thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from the Washington Department of Ecology Algae Control Program, King County will install four floating islands in Hicklin Lake this summer and measure their effectiveness.

Each floating island is 250 square feet in size and built of a durable polycarbonate, anchored in place.

The islands are perforated with dozens of holes that are planted with a variety of native wetland species. The plants’ roots will reach into lake as they grow, where they will take up excess nutrients.

A bio-film of microscopic organisms that forms along the bottom of the floating islands and the plant roots will also take up nutrients from the water.

King County staff will take monthly water quality samples from locations throughout the lake to test the islands’ effectiveness at absorbing pollutants for three summers.

The project is expected to start this spring and will be completed by June 2015 at a total cost of more than $86,000.

Hicklin Lake water quality has been a concern for years, with elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria and phosphorus, as well as a history of harmful algae blooms that have posed potential health threats to people, pets and wildlife.

The lake has been treated twice with alum to reduce phosphorus levels – first in 2005 and again in 2011. It is hoped that the floating islands will prove to be effective and will help to reduce the need for alum application or types of in-lake nutrient controls.

According to e-mail shared by Friends of Hicklin Lake, the county hopes to finish the state permit process by the end of April, finalize “location and design plans” with the county Parks department a month after that, and get the installations done by the end of July.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

King County burn ban lifted again; rain returning soon

January 21st, 2013 Tracy Posted in Environment, Weather, White Center news Comments Off on King County burn ban lifted again; rain returning soon

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has just announced that the burn ban in King County is over (here’s the proof), which means no more restrictions on fireplaces/woodstoves, etc. As for when the fog will go – the area forecast says we might finally see rain Tuesday night.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button