Port Townsend samples water in response to herbicide spraying

Public works director expects results this week

PORT TOWNSEND — City officials collected a sample at the water treatment facility Tuesday to test for the chemical glyphosate after concerned residents flooded the Port Townsend City Council with public comments this month.

About 30 people addressed council members during comment periods both Monday night and on Aug. 5 in response to their concern about aerial spraying of herbicides on Pope Resources timberland.

Many said glyphosate, the active ingredient in the aerial spray, was getting into the watershed, including City Lake, the reservoir that provides Port Townsend with drinking water.

Greg Lanning, Port Townsend Public Works director, said a sample was collected Tuesday and sent to a regional lab. He expects results by the end of this week.

“There will only be one test today where we typically test to ensure safe drinking water for those in the distribution system,” Lanning said.

Adrian Miller, Pope Resources’ vice president of corporate affairs and administration, said his company has been working with the city public works department to let them know where spraying will occur.

“They’ve tested in response to concerns like this in the past,” Miller said. “They’re doing what they need to do.”

Council directed public works staff earlier this month to investigate whether or not a specific test for glyphosate exists, and if so, how much it would cost.

Lanning told the council Monday night he coordinated with the state Department of Health and purchased two jars at $250 each.

“We intend to do another test within a few weeks once we determine exactly what went on in the watershed,” Lanning said.

Diane Dimond of Port Townsend told council the spraying has been emotional “because Port Townsend is a very magical city.”

“I know I’ll never accept a glass of water in a restaurant, but they’re going to use the water to make coffee or tea,” she said.

Dimond implored the council not to do another study but to take action.

“I’m counting on you, and I don’t care if it’s your purview or not,” she said. “This is an emergency, and we need to do something to stop it.”

Lanning said the sample will be put through a mass spectrometer, where light sources will determine if chemicals exist, and if so, how much of each chemical.

The city has tested for more than 80 different constituents in the past nine years, and it publishes an annual consumer confidence report online under its water resources page. It also has a link for the past 20 years of reports.

“If we find these constituents in the water, then we follow-up test,” Lanning said. “We simply aren’t finding them in the water.”

Lanning suggested chemicals like glyphosate are permitted by the state Department of Agriculture because there isn’t much chance of them getting into the watershed.

“When they hit the ground, they pretty much adhere to the ground or they adhere to the plant,” he said. “They have this affinity for attracting themselves to these particles.”

Sometimes at treatment facilities, agencies will intentionally use particulate matter that will be filtered because the chemicals will naturally bond based on electrical charge at the atomic level, Lanning said.

He also said rivers naturally clean themselves through the churn and oxidation process.

“We do know it’s effective on some of the chemicals,” Lanning said.

At City Lake specifically, he said several factors are in play.

“The lake itself is just one very large buffer,” Lanning said. “It’s got natural chemicals, and leaves will change the pH.

“The lake is a natural treatment system, much like the air is.”

________

Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

More in News

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Bill Chastain of Port Angeles receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine from Shaina Gonzales of the North Olympc Healthcare Network during Saturday's vaccination clinic at Port Angeles High School.
Appointment-only system used in Port Angeles

An appointment-only system of scheduling allowed Port Angeles to… Continue reading

Sequim group forms against present council

Petition urges reinstatement of city manager

Students to get more in-person learning

Schedules vary among districts

Don Hoglund is looking forward to staying at  his namesake workplace of some four decades -- under the new owner. Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News
(Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Vaccination clinics to begin this week

First shots going to those 85 and older

Dr. Molly Martin, deputy medical director at the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and Community Emergency Response Team member Jim Johnston help individuals get registered for COVID-19 vaccinations at the tribe’s clinic on Jan. 14. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell
Huge turnouts seen at drive-through clinics

Drive-through vaccination clinics in Sequim and Forks tried residents’… Continue reading

EYE ON JEFFERSON: County to consider comment on Navy training plan

The Jefferson County commissioners will consider commenting on the proposed mitigated determination… Continue reading

EYE ON CLALLAM: Port Angeles council to consider lowered speed limit on South Lincoln

Peninsula Daily News The Port Angeles City Council will conduct a first… Continue reading

Most Read