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Lake Washington water quality is a concern in Kenmore

A man and his dog walk on the Log Boom Park pier last Friday while an advisory sign states that sediment testing is planned.  - Andy Nystrom / Reporter
A man and his dog walk on the Log Boom Park pier last Friday while an advisory sign states that sediment testing is planned.
— image credit: Andy Nystrom / Reporter

There are times when Elizabeth Mooney wants to approach visitors at Log Boom Park in Kenmore and inform them that the water may not be safe.

Larry Altose of the Department of Ecology noted that officials at nearby Harbour Village Marina have found dioxin contamination in the sediment there, and Mooney fears there may be a similar situation at the park along the shore of Lake Washington, where people often wade in the water and take their dogs for walks.

An advisory sign has been posted at Log Boom that says the sediment is going to be studied, Altose said. On a recent Friday afternoon, a group of kids squealed with laughter while they leaped off the dock and into the water as several men fished nearby and a trio of friends picnicked with their dog.

“The water is fine; the concern is with the sediments,” said Ching-Pi Wang, Ecology site manager.

As a man fishes last Friday off Lake Washington, Harbour Village Marina and the Kenmore Industrial Park sit left and center. Andy Nystrom/ Reporter

 

On the Harbour Village scenario, Mooney — a Kenmore resident who has a master’s degree in fisheries from the University of Washington — feels that, “The key is in making sure that we can somehow figure out where the source of those dioxins came from because they are so high that they constitute a human health hazard. People should know where the pesticides are and where the dioxins are, that’s part of living where we live — and it’s a nice place to live.”

Mooney, a member of nonprofit PERK (People for an Environmentally Responsible Kenmore), is concerned that Harbour Village is near a public dock, and people sometimes jump in the water before boarding boats.

Additionally, barges going to and from the Kenmore Industrial Park (a former landfill), while moving anchors and the deck being built there for the new 520 bridge, pass by the marina.

“When barges came through, they disturbed the sediment,” Altose said, adding that the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is now, “moving barges slower, using smaller vessels with less thrust and other things to prevent disturbance of sediment, which we think is a prudent move given that there’s some uncertainty (about where the dioxins came from).”

Added Wang: “The latest round of groundwater monitoring has shown no detects of contaminants for that landfill, which is very encouraging news.” Wang noted that when the site was prepared for the 520 project, workers built berms, stormwater detention ponds and drainage features.

At a recent meeting concerning the Kenmore Industrial Park cleanup at Kenmore City Hall, Assistant City Manager Nancy Ousley thinks the message came through loud and clear that the tests have shown that the conditions are good. Representatives from Ecology, Washington Department of Health, WSDOT and 520 project contractors met with City Councilmembers and the public at the meeting.

Ecology will next use $35,000 in its budget to do some sediment sampling for dioxins offshore of the Kenmore Industrial Park and at Harbour Village and Log Boom, Wang said. They’ll take 10 samples, and the city of Kenmore will take about a dozen sediment samples to test for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, a toxic environmental contaminant) and dioxins around Log Boom and the Kenmore navigation channel.

“Neither of us have money for a full comprehensive study, but this will give us a snapshot. We’ll have a better idea of what we’re working with in terms of dioxin contaminant of the lake’s sediments,” said Altose, noting that they may have results by late fall or early winter.

The sediment testing will help the city of Kenmore as it continues to push for a budget request for federal funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to do maintenance dredging in the channel, Ousley said of the Kenmore testing, which will be done by Anchor Consulting — an environmental consulting firm — as will Ecology’s.

“The state, local and federal agencies are very engaged with each other and with the community when it comes to what the conditions are and the commencement and proceedings of the 520 project activity,” she added. “I’ve been in government for a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen this level of coordination and cooperation among government agencies.”

• PERK will hold a shorelines and water-quality educational event from 7-11 p.m. on Aug. 17 at the Kenmore Community Center (7304 N.E. 175th St.). There will be a band and desserts; kids under 12 are free and a $15 donation is requested for adults.

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