Be Water Wise

Be Water Wise

 

The Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee (GIPAC) has for years been the champion of water issues on Guemes Island. A new brochure is now available that contains valuable information about water conservation and the Guemes aquifer. Brochures will be available in the Guemes Ferry terminal on the Anacortes side or you can view the brochure here. To obtain the water conservation cards referred to in the brochure, please contact Patty Rose at pattyrose.pr@gmail.com.

 

In 1997, the Environmental Protection Agency designated Guemes Island as being served by a sole source aquifer. This means that Guemes aquifers are the main source of potable water; they are recharged only by rainwater. Recharging an aquifer is a gradual process that takes many years. During the wet season, with its overabundance of rain, plants and trees soak up water for nourishment. Some of the excess water sinks into the aquifer and some runs into the sea.

 

Groundwater studies have shown that the water in the island aquifers “floats” on seawater. Excessive pumping from island wells causes the boundary between fresh and saltwater to rise. This can cause seawater intrusion into wells and renders the water unsafe to drink. Failed wells have already impacted more than 64 households on Guemes Island, causing residents to find sometimes very expensive alternatives for potable drinking water.

 

During the dry season, we are tempted to increase water usage by watering lawns, washing cars and boats, and entertaining visitors who are not familiar with the need to conserve water. Conserving water year-round will help protect our groundwater.

 

GIPAC reminds islanders of the many ways to conserve and use water wisely. Whether you are watering your garden, remodeling or building a house, or hosting guests or renters, there are simple tips for saving water.

 

Be a good neighbor. “Be an islander … conserve water.”

Rural Heritage Digitization Project

Rural Heritage Digitization Project

Unidentified Children in the Strickland Barnyard, circa 1926.  Photo Credit: Buchholz collection

 

The Guemes Island Historical Society (GIHS) and the Guemes Island Library (GIL) are collaborating on an exciting new project. GIL president, Morna McEachern, applied for and received a grant from the Washington State Library's (WSL) Rural Digitization Project. The grant funds the purchase of a designated computer, a sophisticated scanner, and associated support for digitization of the GIHS photos and documents in our files. These items will be uploaded to the Washington State Library's Rural Digitization Project. They will be accessible to all interested parties through the Washington Rural Heritage site.

 

The grant has two goals: first to digitize a minimum of 100 items—from the GIHS collection and second to share the process with our community. We originally planned to have three community meetings to share the process and a final slide show. The pandemic has interrupted the second goal—so this article will be a substitute for the first meeting.

 

At present there are four individuals working on the project: Morna McEachern, GIL's new president and catalyst for the project, is responsible for the project's administration, reporting and technical aspects. Klaudia Englund, who has invaluable experience as a professional library archivist, helps organize collections, saves them in archival quality materials, and selects items for scanning. Sue O'Donnell, GIHS secretary, is a third-generation islander who shares her knowledge and family photo collection while keeping a record of our progress. Tom Deach, president of the GIHS, fills out the roster and supports the project—he helped with the grant proposal, has created a workspace for the project, and has contacted, borrowed, and is collecting the required data for each item from several island families’ historical collections.

Eventually, protocol for the digitization will be in place to accept and train more volunteers for this project, but with limited space available, the COVID19 protocols demand that we keep our staff to a minimum at present.

 

If you have photos or documents you would like to have included in the digitization project or would like to volunteer to help, please feel free to contact us. We can be reached by email: guemeshistory@gmail.com or call Tom Deach 360-708-2582.

Guemes, The Island We Love

Guemes, The Island We Love

Islanders may look back on the past twelve months as the “lost year.” We reminisce about activities postponed and remember people who have passed without the opportunity to celebrate their lives. We may feel a sense of grief for what we’ve lost. Yet the act of remembering those beloved people and cherished activities helps to keep the memories alive and gives us hope for better times ahead. We can also learn from history.

 

A century ago, another pandemic ravaged the world. According to the CDC, it’s estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus over a two-year period. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. Vaccines and even antibiotics were not available then. History tells us that interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations on public gatherings were helpful but practiced inconsistently. Those interventions still apply today as we navigate through the current COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to advancements in science, we now have vaccines that give us hope.

 

We can remember Guemes Island’s past by reading archived issues of The Evening Star and The Guemes Tide. Ten years ago, in the “Looking Back” section of the February 2011 issue of the Tide, we learned that islander R.E. Woodburn and his sister, Ruby Myrtle Woodburn Kack, “succumbed in the ravishes of Spanish Influenza” in 1920. That issue also reminded us that it “rained cats and dogs” for record-setting rainfall that January, but thanks to the raising of Edens Road by 12 inches the previous summer, the valley was still passable. That was before beavers moved into the valley. Does any of this sound familiar?

 

History reminds us that we’ve been there before and we can once again get through the difficult times.