It’s that holiday letter time of year again — at least for those who haven’t fully transitioned to Facebook to get and share all their news.
One letter at a time, the rest of us get caught up on the latest accomplishments of our high-achieving friends and family, the state of mind and body for distant loved ones — and perhaps we take stock ourselves, given the turn of the calendar that’s coming and our desire to have hope for the future.
So, in the spirit of sharing freely, I was working on this column and got to imagining what would “Sequim’s Water” say in a holiday letter? What is the water news that’s good and hopeful, and perhaps some news that’s not so good but needs to be expressed so everyone knows about it, etc., like all holiday letters have. Here’s my rendition of a holiday letter from our local water supplies’ perspective:
“Happy Winter Everyone!
I hope this letter finds you staying dry and free of thirst this holiday season. For me, 2015 was my craziest year yet!
Back in February we had a downpour so huge that the Dungeness River channel waggled around like a garden hose at full volume! At Railroad Bridge Park the main channel eroded its way west, taking out the old trestle. People have said for decades it was bound to happen.
Another major storm on the Ides of March struck Sequim with about 2.5 inches of rain in 24 hours! The City’s wastewater plant took in seven times its normal volume — those folks were on their toes!
About that same time, just when I was feeling good about myself, the doctor diagnosed me with drought! And boy was she right — while I was happy as a clam at high tide, my upper elevations hadn’t had the normal freeze all winter. The Dungeness, Bell Creek and everyone else had plenty of water for a while, but by Earth Day in April, I started to feel weak and dizzy …
Then, at the Irrigation Festival (my favorite), I realized all those farmers that needed water were going to have a rough time when my frozen reserves had all melted. Sure enough, several farms sold their right to irrigate in August in order that migrating salmon would have a fighting chance and most regular folks using the irrigation ditch stopped watering their lawns. I think everyone was conserving me! But even so, the Dungeness River flow was the lowest on record — a very sad day in my world.
Of course, the warm, dry weather made me hot so now I had a fever, too! This made it a great year for swimming people but I felt bad for the swimming fish! Bell Creek is lucky because the City has my high-tech cousin, reclaimed water, supplementing the flow. And the Haller Playfields stayed green all summer because they get irrigated with reclaimed water — boy, was I glad for my cousin’s help!
Hard to believe how hot and dry I was just a couple of months ago! A few delightful rain showers starting in late August really helped out my fish friends and everyone who grows anything. But we went from one extreme to the other and now I’m feeling cold and wet! There has been so much rain that the water table is full, Bell Creek started flowing early (in November), and storm drains are flowing in reverse all over the place! The really good news: my upper elevation is getting exactly what it needs: SNOW!
In closing, I just have to hope my bounty isn’t taken for granted (mine and my cousin’s). It doesn’t take much — I could be stored in ponds or reservoirs in the foothills or even in the ground! My hope for 2016 is that water managers around here keep talking about ways to use storm water because otherwise — it’s a waste! Oh well, they can’t say I didn’t warn them …
Water Resources Sr.”
Now, for those of you who don’t bother reading holiday letters — if you made it this far, now you know how many exclamation marks you’ve missed! 😉
Current snow depth in the upper Dungeness basin on Dec. 23 = 26 inches
Cumulative rainfall in Sequim for the water year (starts Oct. 1) = 11 inches
Ann Soule is a licensed hydrogeologist working on water quality and quantity concerns in the Dungeness watershed since 1990. She now works for the City of Sequim. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.