Guest opinion: Loss of glaciers a stark warning sign

The announcement that we would be losing our critical glaciers in 50 years now is front page news (“Study: Olympic glaciers doomed,” Peninsula Daily News, April 23-24, page A-1). The culprit is a warming of the earth fueled by us.

Some will sigh and regret the loss of skiing, snowboarding and the beautiful glaciers which have held onto the highest mountains even in the heat of summer. This new reality has much deeper consequences for us. The snow and those glaciers are our life line into the future.

Here in Clallam County we often take our water for granted. It rains buckets most years and our mountains receive snow which melts along with the glaciers as this valuable water flows down our rivers in the spring and summer supplying needed water to irrigate farms and refill our aquifers. We the thirsty humans depend on aquifers (our wells) for our water.

Here in the Dungeness Watershed this reduction of water flowing down our streams and rivers will severely affect our agricultural community as well as our water tables.

In 50 years we may have lost our valued rural environment which is why 80 percent of us chose to live here.

Fortunately, some interested users of this precious resource foresaw this coming disaster and created a plan to take some water out of the Dungeness River at its height of flows in late winter early spring and store it in an “off channel reservoir.” Farmers then could use this saved water for the summer when they most need it.

Of course, there is the whole issue of our salmon and other fish that depend on water flowing downstream so they can swim, spawn and supply us with the next generation of fish.

A close collaboration of scientist, our elected representatives, farmers and tribes will be needed to complete this reservoir in the next five to seven years. Funding for planning and to purchase land has already been granted to us by the state government.

We may disagree on many issues in this community but water access is a known necessity to survival … be it human, livestock, lavender or fish.

Carrol Hull is coordinator of the League of Women Voters’ “The Story of Water-Clallam County” series.

For more about climate change in Clallam County, visit