Saturday, April 23, 2016

May 8: Marian Beddill presents Water in Whatcom: Quantity and Quality

         Only air is more critical to life than water. Whatcom County and surrounding lands have been populated and have survived, in great part, because there is rainfall, so there's water to supply our needs. But that water might not last forever.
         QUANTITY: What if the amount of rain gets greatly reduced or the demand for more supply is greatly increased. Those are not "what-if" scenarios. They are real. And if we are smart, we will plan for them before they happen to us.

         Grabbing water from where there's an excess and piping it to where there's a need is expensive. But before you can even do that, you have to be allowed to take that water. So whose water was it before you grabbed it, and what might they do or demand if you took it without permission? The Salish Sea, the only supply of water for Whatcom that is essentially endless and publicly available, is undrinkable. It is salty and the treatment for that is also very expensive. 
         On rural lands, a single house is allowed to drill a well to obtain water for ordinary domestic needs and maybe a bit more. Our cities and a few towns have permission to take water from the surface or underground. But a bunch of homes, or a farm or business, must be granted a certified “water right” by the state. Agricultural irrigation is the largest user. And the state will not issue those permits unless they know there is available water. There is one large area in Whatcom where water availability is unknown and there are significant concerns about how to learn that availability. The people have a say but they need to know what to say to whom.
         QUALITY: Water needs to be clean in order to be safe for use by people and wildlife. If people get sick from drinking it, you know that it is NOT clean. But how might we know that before it causes illness? And how can it be treated? Better yet, how can we act to keep it from getting polluted?

Marian Beddill is a 25-year resident of Bellingham who is active in water concerns locally. Marian is a retired civil engineer and meteorologist who has worked most of her life on improvements to irrigation systems for agriculture worldwide. She also has managed various other water projects including a county public works department in Hawaii, the design of the second-largest sanitary sewer pipeline in Brazil, and the installation and management of an agricultural sprinkler factory. Marian also holds a U.S. patent for a flow-control device. 
For more information about BUF’s Sunday forums, please email the forum planners at

No comments:

Post a Comment