The Key Peninsula-Gig Harbor-Islands Watershed Council (KGI) held their annual retreat in late January at the Key Center Library to identify the local priorities for addressing nonpoint source impacts to water quality in their five year action plan. This plan covers all areas draining into the salt waters of Pierce County west of the Tacoma Narrows.

The Watershed Council has been around since 2002.

According to Erin Ewald, former council chair, the council was originally formed to coordinate and direct education and outreach associated with the county’s basin plan. The council provides an opportunity for citizens to participate and learn more about why capital projects such as removing fish passage barriers, culvert replacement projects and stormwater controls are important and what actions can be taken to help keep the watershed healthy and thriving.

Ewald said the basin plans are getting “out of date.”

“The goals for the retreat were to identify current and future watershed needs. These priorities will go into the new five-year plan and provide feedback to the county for their consideration. These priorities might include recommendations for new stormwater projects to address recent development and water quality and water quantity improvements,” Ewald said.

She said the Watershed Council is a great resource for citizen groups that want to know whats going on with water quality. Groups and individuals interested in watershed processes and planning can participate and know their voice will be heard.

“We reinforce open dialog and respect for each other’s perspectives and opinions. The purpose of the retreat is to gather thoughts about what we’ve learned over time as a group and as members of the community, and then apply that information to benefit local water quality,” Ewald said.

“There is a stewardship component and an education component,” said Barbara Ann Smolko, senior planner with Surface Water Management Pierce County.

“We have a good partnership with the Key Peninsula. Its very important to identify problems locally and respond to them. However, we need to pull in more long term data collection through citizen science and develop a dialog with the community, teaching land stewardship and maintaining timber, for instance,” she said

“I would like to see this group push for updated community plans for both Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula,” Lucinda Wingard, with Crescent Valley Alliance, added. “Parks and open space are new since the original documents were written.”

The committee will be finalizing their one-year agenda by next month and will finalize the five year action plan within the next few months. To participate or learn more, contact Barbara Ann Smolko at bsmolko@co.pierce.wa.us or (253) 798-3096.

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