Thanksgiving in July | Editorial

In retail speak, Christmas in July is a device to spark sales in the summer lull before ‘Back to School’ shopping begins. But perhaps this year, Western Washington residents might want to consider a Thanksgiving in July. When we consider the pain and suffering caused by the massive oil spill in the Gulf, we might wish to say: “There but by the grace of God, goes Washington State.”

A map prepared by the Washington State Department of Ecology shows just how catastrophic the oil spill would be if it happened here. Like the Gulf states, we depend on the clean waters of the Sound and the Pacific for our fishing industry and to attract visitors to our state, as both generate thousands of jobs for residents and billions of tax dollars. Tourism dollars alone are fourth on the list of the highest contributors to our economy just behind software, aerospace and agriculture.

We should give thanks for the fact that Puget Sound is largely protected from oil disasters. Concerned by the growing number of oil tankers here more than 20 years ago, Sen. Warren Magnuson along with Sen. Brock Adams and others sought to keep oil of the Sound by first banning ports for tankers here. After the Exxon Valdez disaster, they took swift action to require double-hulls on all such ships.

This week's story about Lake Washington water quality is also cause for thanks. The lake remains clean — a result of hard work and good fortune. On our Island, the replacement of the sewer lake line is a huge step toward preventing pollution. However, we cannot be complacent. It is difficult to believe that there is only one functioning monitoring buoy in the lake. We need to ensure that testing for pollution in all forms continues. We need to comply with limits set on impervious surfaces. But in reality, the health of the lake depends on us every day — to watch what we pour down our drains and streets, limit polluting runoff from lawns and parks. And that means everything: from soap to caffeine and grease to dog poop. See what the oil spill would look like over Puget Sound.

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