Monday, October 8, 2007

Lake Whatcom Reservoir: A Necessary Restructuring

"Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right thing." - Warren Bennis
Those of us who have been working to preserve our drinking water source had reason to take heart today.
But, what happened certainly should not be viewed as a 'silver bullet' by any means.
Instead, it should be seen as another positive step in the right direction, a move to secure, strengthen and to work smarter on the substantial efforts being devoted to solving the hard problem we face.

Do not make the the easy mistake of under estimating our problem!
It will literally take our lifetimes, and maybe then some, to stabilize our reservoir and protect it in perpetuity.
But, it will be worth it!

Today, the City Council unamimously encouraged the Mayor & County Executive to bring forward a new Interlocal Agreement to reflect the proposal they presented.
Tomorrow, the County Council will have the same opportunity.
With their support, a new working agreement will happen.

It is guaranteed to be more collaborative, because it will be equally and reliably funded by both juridictions.
As the jurisdictions with zoning, enforcement and related duties, it makes sense that this structure be shared between City and County.

The cost will be about $150,000 more than the current Lake Whatcom, split between City and County.
Most of that will likely be spent on hiring a Director to focus full-time on preserving Lake Whatcom.
That is a critical hire.

But the structure itself will definitely get City & County aboard the same galley, and pulling oars together in a direction both entities can agree upon.
That is a step in the right direction!
It's called accentuating the positive.

Another benefit will be to expand the City's Watershed Advisory Board to include County members, and have the resulting group report directly to -the Director!
That gives their recommendations more visibility, coordination and clout.
All of those things are improvements over what we have now.

Both City & County can benefit from each others knowledge, experience and common goals.
Rather than continuing a system of finger-pointing, competition and excuses, the new arrangement promotes cooperation and results.

The tip-off that this was truly a good faith effort was the obvious mutual respect shown by the Mayor and the County Executive!
That has been a long time coming, and it is an important element that has been missing.
And, taking this step now, before the election, insures that the incoming Mayor and Executive will be pre-committed to support this new management structure.
On related matters, the City also received preliminary reports on its Water Source Protection Plan update and on the existing Lake Whatcom Management Plan.
The WSPP will be reported more fully later, on October 22 for the WSPP.
The LWMP Update will be presented at a joint Council Review Meeting on November 1.

The City's Comprehensive Plans for its Water, Sewer and Stormwater Systems are also undergoing periodic reviews.
Adjustments in rates are likely, but these would be phased in over time.

The twin guiding principles are these:

• Adequacy of overall revenues
• Equity in collecting revenues

Finally, a Draft Stormwater Plan for the Lake Whatcom Watershed was presented.
This will become a section of the City's overall Stormwater Comprehensive Plan, and focuses specifically on the issue of phosphorus in stormwater.

This Plan itemizes what steps the City is currently taking, what it is proposing to do, and what other activities should be considered to limit phosphorous generation.
This subject warrants its own blog, at a later time.