Northwest NEWS

July 30, 2001

Editorial

Don't risk future disaster on mistakes made in the present

(Copy of a letter sent to the Snohomish County Council)
   I thought it prudent to share with you my conclusions after having attended the July 12 Brightwater Siting Advisory Committee meeting.
   Are you aware that until theThrasher's Corner group made their data presentation that afternoon none of the committee members had received any data regarding either the earlier 37 sites or the current six sites under consideration?
   Did you know that in answer to one of the member's requests they [the council] will receive no information on the current sites and analysis until it is made public after the decision is made in September narrowing the site list to 2-3 sites?
   Furthermore, are you aware that there is no prearranged vehicle by which this committee can make a joint recommendation to Mr. Sims and the King County Council? Committee members were even confused as to whether or not that was within their mandate, and if so, how were they to communicate their recommendations!
   My conclusions: The Siting Advisory Committee is a Brightwater smoke screen. In response to questions by myself and others regarding representation in the siting process, we have been referred to the Siting Committee. After all it is made up of the mayors and city managers of all the Snohomish County cities concerned, as well as several public and political interest groups.
   So, we the public obligingly contact our appropriate city officials who then indicate that they have no direct involvement in the decision process, and that we should contact the Snohomish and King county officials.
   Or, they have taken our comments and indicated that they will communicate them to Mr. Sims and the King County Council.
   Given the schedules and width of interests that Mr. Sims and the King County Council have, our concerns are probably lost in the stack somewhere. Snohomish County officials respond that they are not involved.
   Public input is effectively stymied, confused and diffused. Brightwater officials continue in their own direction without any concern or consideration for public oversight all in all, a brilliant piece of political strategy on the part of King County.
   Nonetheless, Siting committee members were a bit nonplussed to have the facts of their non-importance in the process so rudely slammed in their faces. I know that those of us just visiting the meeting certainly were. Who are these nameless, faceless analysts who effectively have direction of the decision making in the siting process?
   Let me urge you all to take an interest in discovering who will be making the decisions regarding the location of a treatment plant in your county.
   After all, you may naturally conclude that the public in its confusion, will direct all their positive or negative energy at their county council representatives, holding you accountable for any final decision as to the site location. At that point, a statement of non-involvement/non-responsibility by the council will only serve to further damage your personal and political image in the eyes of your constituents not a desirable conclusion I should think.
   Get involved and informed now. This is not going to go away. This sewage treatment plant will not be like the neighbor who plays his radio too loud on sunny summer weekends. The plant, where ever it ends up will be there 24 hours a day, for the next 100 years!
   Residents will not be able to just close their windows and wait for winter! And they shouldn't have to!
   There is still time to question and change the process so that the final result will serve the best interests of all involved without becoming a political and environmental time bomb.
   Residents of the Thrasher's Corner area are interested and very well informed. They have actively tried to set up meetings with the technical folks at Brightwater to no avail. They are interested in sharing their data and finding out where their analysis is wrong, if at all. And if they aren't wrong, then why isn't their data being included in the Brightwater analysis and acted on accordingly?
   This is not a NIMBY action on their part. Residents are aware of the importance and necessity of a sewage treatment plant. However, we are concerned that given the financial and environmental impacts of such a facility, it be located in the best possible location. We don't want to risk any disaster in the future which may come about because of procedural and data flaws in the present.
   Christina Morrissey, Bothell