Vandals cause $60,000 in damage to Lake Sammamish buoy
July 22, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 5 p.m. July 22, 2010
Vandals damaged a county data buoy bobbing in Lake Sammamish during the weekend, and the cash-strapped county might be unable to repair or replace the damaged equipment.
The suspects flipped the buoy, causing a gap in the weather and water-quality information gathered by the device. County staffers do not yet know if equipment can be salvaged from the damaged buoy. Replacement costs could reach about $60,000.
The buoy supported a weather station offering hourly average air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction and total solar radiation — useful information for anglers, swimmers, water-skiers, triathletes and scientists monitoring the lake.
The buoy floats near the western side of the lake near the midpoint, in the lake’s deepest water.
Doug Williams, spokesman for the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, said the buoy had been taken to a county environmental lab in Queen Anne to dry. Staffers should be able to determine soon if the equipment crammed aboard the buoy can be repaired or salvaged.
Vandalism or destruction of public property can result in fines up to $20,000 and up to 10 years in prison. People with information about the buoy vandalism can call the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206-296-3311.
The buoy serves as part of the county Major Lakes Monitoring Program. The effort records and analyzes the long-term environmental quality of lakes Sammamish, Union and Washington.
County scientists also share buoy-collected information with the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network as part of a broader investigation of the effects of local human activity and climate change on lake ecosystems.
Vandals also damaged a county buoy on Lake Sammamish last May. County Environmental Services Unit staffers managed to get data recorders and transmitters working again.
“You can’t monitor something like that out in the lake 24/7,” Williams said.