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Life depends on water. As an island surrounded by salt water, Whidbey's fresh water aquifer is limited. This puts a premium on water retention and conservation. Whidbey Climate ACTION promotes individual efforts for education and action, and advocates for policies for protecting this essential resource.


Whidbey's Water Future was a conference organized by Whidbey Climate ACTION to educate and call to action for the preservation and restoration of water in ecosystems and the aquifer on Whidbey Island. These are the proceedings.

Conference Program

Date: June 10, 2023

Hosted: WICA

Intro and Snohomish Welcome

Linda Irvine and Pamela SeaMonster

Our Water Future in a Changing Climate

Richard Gammon

Our Water Future in a Changing Climate.png

Dr. Richard Gammon is Professor (Emeritus) of Chemistry and Oceanography, and Adjunct Professor (Emeritus) of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. Richard co-authored the first scientific assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in 1990. As Chief of the Carbon Dioxide Program, he directed the U.S. government’s program to globally monitor atmospheric CO2 from 1982-84.

Is Whidbey’s Water Sustainable?

Perry Lovelace

Perry Lovelace has 25 years experience in groundwater management. He is the Bayview Beach Water District Commissioner and serves as a Langley Public Works Advisory Commissioner. Perry's special interests are rainfall patterns, aquifers, wells and how we manage Earth’s precious resources.

Brian Kerkvliet is a co-steward of Inspiration Farm, having a wide breadth of practical knowledge on how to partner with natural systems to bring forth regenerative stability and abundance. Working with water, perennial systems and Permaculture Design for over 20 years. He is one of the first graduates from Zach Weiss’s Water Stories course at the professional level.

How Sea Level Change will Impact Erosion of our Bluffs and Threaten our Aquifers

Dr. Paul Belanger

Our bluffs, the result of multiple glacial advances and deposits, are subject to erosion. Research is ongoing by the USGS, WWU and the UW, as to how sea level rise is going to impact erosion of these bluffs. Community Science projects, which participants are invited to join, contribute to our understanding of these processes. This workshop will also focus on strategies and resources for bluff-dwellers to properly drain bluffs near their edges, and the challengers of minimizing undercutting and collapse of bluffs. We will also talk about establishing rain gardens and water conservation efforts AWAY from bluff edges to help enhance aquifer recharge and reduce the risks of saltwater intrusion.

Dr. Paul Belanger is a retired geologist who has studied the marine record of past climates. Paul serves as President of Sound Waters Stewards. He enjoys leading geologic field trips on Whidbey and Camano focusing on the bluffs - how they formed, how they vary, how they nourish beaches and how climate change will impact them.

Water, Soil and the Local Food System: Regenerative Farming Solutions for Resiliency

Jake Stewart


Join us for an engaging workshop on climate resiliency with a focus on water and soil management from a regenerative farmer’s perspective. With a background rooted in science, Jake Stewart will share his insights on the importance of innovation and ‘adaptive resiliency’ to meet the challenges of a rapidly shifting climate here on Whidbey Island. We will emphasize the significance of managing our natural resources like aquifers, forests and integrated soil systems to ensure the future health of our island.

Jake Stewart has over 20 years of experience in localized sustainable systems, including renewable energy, climate adaptation, conservation and sustainable food security. He has received recognition for his work on localized sustainable energy systems in Eastern Africa, Europe and Central America. He is currently focused on climate adaptation and sustainable farmstead integration/education and runs Sweetwater Farm & Shire with his family.

Designing a Water Resilient Landscape

Brian Kerkvliet


We are all aware of increased occurrences of droughts, floods and threats of fires. Brian will share an overview of strategies that can easily be implemented to work with water and natural systems, maximizing the benefits and minimize the problems. We will be learning how to read the land, and how to install soil and plants to partner with waters’ natural patterns to create an abundant, resilient, regenerative system. Q&A will follow the presentation.

The Wonder-full World of Whidbey’s Wetlands!

Dr. Leah Beckett


Wetlands provide us with so many services from groundwater protection and clean drinking water to habitat for rare and beautiful carnivorous plants; and yet many of us are unaware that wetlands are all around us; even in cities and lawns. This talk will focus on exploring the many varied types of wetlands on Whidbey Island as well as what wetlands do, how to identify them, and what we can do to protect, restore and value them.

Dr. Leah Beckett has been working in wetlands for over twenty years. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland studying the effects of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands. Since then she has worked as a wetlands research scientist for the City of New York and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission here in Washington State. Currently she is the Wetland Specialist for Washington State Department of Ecology.

Grey Water and Rainwater Harvesting

Penny Livingston


As groundwater is becoming increasingly depleted and salt water is intruding along the coasts, rainwater and stormwater management and harvesting techniques will become important and necessary, as will using grey water for landscape irrigation. Penny Livingston will share the techniques and strategies for harvesting rainwater, as well as techniques to mitigate flooding in valleys.


Penny Livingston is internationally recognized as a prominent permaculture teacher, designer and speaker. She is the co-founder and director of the Regenerative Design Institute. Penny specializes in design and installation of perennial agroforestry systems, biological water purification systems, site planning and the design of resource-rich landscapes integrating rainwater collection, edible and medicinal planting, spring development, pond and water systems.

Groundwater Contamination and Protection on Whidbey Island

John Lovie


The recent discovery of PFAS (“Forever Chemicals”) in our groundwater and drinking water on Whidbey Island highlights the vulnerability of our aquifer to surface contamination. John Lovie’s presentation will give a brief overview of these chemicals, their effects on human health, and how they get into our groundwater. He will also discuss what is being done to clean them up, what you can do to protect yourselves in the meantime and what we need to do to protect our groundwater now and into the future.

John Lovie is a director and past president of the Whidbey Island Water Systems Association, and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington State Office of Drinking Water. He is a member of the Department of Health and Ecology PFAS Chemical Action Plan advisory team and is currently working with a Public Participation Grant from the Department of Ecology for public education and engagement in cleanup of PFAS contamination in groundwater.

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