District 2 Candidate Mary Hudson Responds

Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions.

Four decades ago water systems, small and large, failed. Even while major systems, such as in Potlatch II failed, the County refused to curtail new well drilling even on the impacted North end of Guemes.  Despite additional seawater intrusion, the County continued to require that new development source water from a well, or an existing system, to attain the building permit.  During this same period, the County refused to fund a study of the locations and limits of our aquifer. Fortunately, others did help and USGS completed an important first look. Our efforts, not the county’s, resulted in a Sole Source Aquifer designation, recognizing that the only water we have falls from the sky. Since then many additional systems have failed. Since then we have worked to get a follow-up study that might provide an adequate water budget. Again, the county refused to help and, in fact, insisted that we made the whole thing up, that there were no real water problems over here despite a long history and much scientific evidence to the contrary.

What is your understanding of the history of water issues on Guemes Island?

As I understand it, saltwater intrusion has been documented on Guemes Island since about 1994.  Wells can be dug on the island without any oversight from the county or DOE if there is no new construction attached to it.  Alternative options for water have been introduced, for example, water catchment systems; but currently there is a requirement for the design to be signed off on by an engineer, with an estimated additional cost of around $5000.   Although it looks as if the Planning Commission has asked the Commissioners to amend this requirement to make it more feasible and cost effective. I also have seen that very recently, the Planning Commission voted to reject any changes to authorizing any changes to the code regarding needing a permit to dig a new well on the island. 

Do you support the Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee's two most recent proposals, P1 which would encourage rainwater catchment by creating a template for such systems, and P2 which would require pre-inspection of a well site before well drilling proceeds. (P1 has been delayed through a decision to study it further and P2 has been denied.)

With climate change threatening even less water, what will you do to help us here?

I support the GI Planning Advisory Committee's proposals. I don't think it is logical to continue along the path of allowing wells to be continuously drilled on an island that has put facts into evidence that there really is a problem with salt water intrusion, and other counties allow specific areas to have inspections prior to drilling any wells.

The Guemes Island ferry is over 40 years old. The Commissioners and Public Works are intent on spending more than $20 million for a new, electric ferry. They have refused to consider refitting the current vessel which could give it at least another 20 years of serve for far, far less money. So intent on their (not our) dream of being the first with an hybrid-electric ferry, the Commission did not bother to apply for State Volkswagen settlement funds which well might have offset a great deal of the cost of refitting. $20 million to serve an island with less than a thousand full-time residents seems disproportionate.

Do you feel the only and best option is to build a new (hybrid-electric) ferry? If so, why?

I think it is one option.  It seems like it's the most environmentally friendly option.  The more time we put into studying this, the longer it will take for anything to get done.  And the more money it will cost.  We need to get off the stick and get something going.

Since State or Federal funds seem very limited or unavailable, how do you feel about floating a bond within the County to self-fund this project?

I think that floating a bond through the county seems practical, especially right now with the interest rates being so low and there is a designated funding source for debt service.

Since it may take years to raise the funds, during which the current engines and outdrives may fail, do you think it important to have a backup plan to keep the current ferry running?

Absolutely.  I would expect that the current ferry should be kept in good working order for filling in for service interruptions.