EPA’s failings

Dear Editor:

The crisis in Flint, Michigan, highlights the EPA’s failings with regard to municipal water systems.

The EPA went off the rails back in 1993 in response to the great Cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. New rules were written mandating disinfection with heavy levels of chlorine and  ammonia. This was the start of the EPA compliance-only era. Prior to the new rules, a city water system was certified by the EPA based on tests of finished water quality. After the new rules, a water system could not be certified without also complying with treatment mandates. After the new rules, cities added the big dose of chlorine whether the water needed it nor not. This led to a chain of unintended consequences.

More chlorine makes the water more corrosive, leaching lead. This trips the EPA’s lead-and-copper rule, which requires treatment for corrosion control. The corrosion treatment introduces chemicals which interact with the chlorine to create trihalomethanes and other carcinogens. The EPA then scrambled to write more new rules for trihalomethanes.

In 1990, as a new resident of Portland, Oregon, I was amazed at just how great the tap water tasted in Portland. The west slopes of the Cascades have young volcanic soils and lots of rainfall. The water produced there is as soft and pure as any surface water anywhere. In a few short years, as Portland moved to comply with the new EPA mandates, the tap water quality went down. Taste suffered and lots of new kinds of carcinogens could now be detected in the finished water.

Water is the universal solvent. Every raw water source has a different set of stuff mixed in. The best municipal tap water is produced by designing a treatment process to match the situation. The one-size-fits-all EPA mandates prevent municipal tap water from being excellent anywhere.

Dan Aspenwall, Winthrop

Let’s talk it over

Dear Editor:

Catastrophic fires have taken lives, land and homes here in the Methow Valley over the last two summers. The dilemma: how do we act responsibly in this situation? Let’s listen to each other and find a solution together, experts and lay people alike.

Some alternative ideas and questions: How can the North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative help homeowners to fire-wise their homes?

How will thinning far from our homes keep us safe? Were we to fire-wise our whole communities with ample containment lines perhaps we could minimize fire suppression, which has gotten us into this situation.

Derek Churchill, forestry consultant for the Mission Project, has a treatment method that if applied to catastrophically burned areas could prove to be a splendid way to re-plant our devastated forest.

Let’s make Lookout Mountain a wilderness area as a sanctuary for wildlife, hikers and tourists.

And what if valley residents were allowed to cut green timber along U.S. Forest Service roads, creating more containment lines, and reducing the impact of proposed heavy mechanized logging operations?

Shrub-steppe grasslands burn hot and fast. Is there a way to work with this biome, home to so much wildlife and protect the human habitat?

I am concerned about the carbon footprint of the proposed Mission Project with 1,500 log truck round-trips for Libby Creek Road, alone. It is imprudent to contribute to global warming when that is the over-riding source of the problem.

There are many other good scientific options available — let’s give them consideration before settling on the one that the collaborative is offering which is unproven and questionable.

It’s too easy to react in a state of fear of fire. Let’s slow down, listen to alternatives and make the right decision. We are all in this together.

Joanne Cooper, Carlton

Thanks for the help

Dear Editor:

On behalf of Methow At Home, we’d like to express our sincere gratitude to Sarah Brooks for her recent work with our board at our first strategic planning. Her energetic, positive leadership helped us to do some deep thinking about where our new nonprofit organization is headed. Methow At Home connects volunteers with members to help them with challenging tasks, which is one of our intentions — as well as provide social and educational opportunities. However, one of the ideas we pondered is how to expand our outreach to anyone who would like to become a member of Methow At Home and could benefit from our services. We thank the Methow Conservancy for “lending” Sarah to us for the day. “The Conservancy believes it is important for all of the nonprofits in the valley to be as strong as possible because ultimately we are all working together to build a positive future for the Methow Valley.” — Sarah Brooks

Thank you Sarah, and thank you Methow Valley Conservancy.

Deirdre Cassidy, Methow At Home Coordinator; Betsy Weiss, Board President

Trail is possible

Dear Editor:

Re: the public trail in Twisp. As a former mayor of the town (2000 – 2004), I am familiar with the history of the property in question, particularly in regards to the agreements between the town and the Lloyd family with respect to the failed business park project at the old Wagner Mill site.

I am convinced the town will get a riverfront trail adjacent to the mill site. It is part of the town’s Shoreline Master Program, and will be a requirement of the state Shoreline Management Act (SMA) compliance review when the Lloyds finally submit their development plan to the planning commission. They know this, and that is at least part of the reason why they have held up submitting the plan for over 20 years.

The citizens of Twisp have dreamed of a trail along the riverfront for decades. It can happen. Much good work has been done. It is important that the Town Council, under pressure to get matching funds for the trail construction grant, does not enter an agreement with the Lloyds that compromises our future options.

Mike Price, Twisp

Feed the deer

Dear Editor:

Deer need help, now. I have 70 starving deer, jumping corral fences and eating my horses’ hay. I can’t afford it. I can’t stop it. The only humane answer is to feed them. Many will die either way. We make state and local profits from them. Their eating habitat has burned two years in a row. It’s like losing Hank’s Harvest Foods and Evergreen IGA. The Legislature allocated emergency $450,000 for deer feed. Let’s see it in real feed, now! Contact me at

Michael Rothgeb, Twisp