Damaged Lake Sammamish data buoy placed back in service

July 27, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

The data-gathering buoy damaged by vandals the weekend of July 17 has been placed back into service on Lake Sammamish. Contributed

Vandals damaged a county data buoy bobbing in Lake Sammamish in mid-July, and the cash-strapped county might be unable to repair or replace damaged equipment crammed aboard the float.

King County Sheriff’s Office and county environmental officials said 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.

The buoy had been returned to Lake Sammamish by late last week. Though temperature and relative humidity probes had been damaged beyond repair, the buoy suffered little damage.

“We definitely dodged a bullet,” King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks spokesman Doug Williams said.

The incident occurred the weekend of July 17.

The buoy supports 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 on the western side of the lake near the midpoint — not far from the Issaquah and Sammamish shorelines, and in the deepest water in Lake Sammamish.

Williams said the buoy had been taken to a county environmental lab in Queen Anne to dry after the incident.

Vandalism or destruction of public property can result in fines up to $20,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

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.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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