Jet ski race may be doomed


Herald Writer

LAKE STEVENS – The Aquafest Jet Ski Tournament, still in its infancy, may soon be dead.

Politics and pollution could end the event after only its second year, Aquafest president Laura Reynoldssaid Friday.

The tournament is still set for July 30, but Reynolds had to convince the Lake Stevens City Council and Drainage District 8 that potential water pollution would be carefully limited.

The effort tired out the community volunteer.

"This may or may not be the last year," Reynolds said.

District 8 Commission Chairman Ken Withrow hopes it will be.

Last year he asked Lake Stevens to cancel the event two weeks before Aquafest. Then-mayor Jay Echols said it was unfair to target personal watercraft when other boats also pollute, and that it wouldn’t be right to cancel at such a late date.

Instead, staff of the drainage district tested for water pollution before and after the competition.

"There was nothing before and quite a bit after," Withrow said.

To help pinpoint whether fuel residue after Aquafest is any worse than other busy weekends on the lake, District 8 staff collected water samples last weekend to compare with this year’s Aquafest tests.

A wakeboard contest and water ski competition are also a part of Aquafest. The personal watercraft races drew about 20 contestants last year, Reynolds said.

Studies show that older two-cycle boat engines kick out up to 30 percent of their fuel unburned. The exhaust goes directly into the water and air. The chemicals are an ecological hazard, Withrow said, especially because the Jet Ski tournament is held in North Cove. The narrow area has the lake’s only outfall – into a salmon spawning stream.

"We have a small lake up here. It’s already in trouble," Withrow said. ‘We just see it as one more source of pollution for the lake."

To reduce the impacts of Aquafest, organizers will make sure personal watercraft don’t refuel on the lake, avoiding potential spills, and encourage the use of synthetic oil, which is more environmentally friendly.

Event sponsor Victory Motorsports will also inspect watercraft to make sure they’re running well, business owner Doug Ross said. He expects most of the competitors will have newer boats, which burn fuel more efficiently and so pollute less.

Ross said he cares about the lake where he and his kids swim.

"If they’re really concerned about pollution, they’re going to be attacking not just the personal watercraft, they’re going to be attacking it from all fronts," he said of the drainage district.

Lawn mowers, gas-powered weed trimmers, boats and lawn fertilizer also leak pollutants into Lake Stevens, he pointed out. Personal watercraft users are a small part of the problem, but it’s a group that’s easily attacked, Ross said.

Withrow agreed it’s the district’s responsibility to fight all sources of pollution. Jet skis have been banned at national parks and on other lakes where pollution or noise is a concern, he said.

District administrator Angela Busby said in a letter to the city that this year’s tests might even prove that the personal watercraft event is less a problem than normal boating on the lake.

Lake Stevens city administrator Dave O’Leary promised district commissioners in a letter that the city would host a public meeting this summer to review the findings and discuss the best way to lessen any environmental impacts. The city and Aquafest also committed to paying at least some of the estimated $1,000 cost of the testing and the placement of an absorbent boom at the lake’s outfall on Aquafest weekend.

The Lake Stevens City Council approved the Aquafest event permit last month and waived fees for it. The council included the testing and environmental protections in its approval, long-time city council member Gen Moore said.

The city, the drainage district and the Aquafest committee are cooperating, she said.

"The three entities are working to keep down the pollution and make it an event that everyone can enjoy and not damage the stream and the ecology," Moore said.

You can call Herald Writer Kristin Kinnamon at 425-339-3429or send e-mail to

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
Small plane lost power in crash north of Paine Field, flight club says

The pilot reportedly called 911, stuck in a tree, on Friday. The sole occupant survived “without a scratch,” the president of Puget Sound Flyers said.

The PUD Everett Substation on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Delta residents rip PUD power line plan to cut through neighborhood

The PUD said the poles will connect two Everett power stations amid “increasing electrical demand.” Locals feel it shows a lack of “forethought.”

IonQ CEO Peter Chapman, left, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, right, cut a ribbon during an IonQ event at their research and manufacturing facility on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Nation’s first quantum computing manufacturing plant opens in Bothell

IonQ, a Maryland-based firm, expects to add hundreds of jobs and invest $1 billion in the region over the next 10 years.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. All public and private schools in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties must close for six weeks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
WA boost in student homelessness funding reaches more districts

Edmonds schools are using money to provide support specifically for its homeless seniors living without a parent or guardian.

People look out onto Mountain Loop Mine from the second floor hallway of Fairmount Elementary on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mining company ordered to stop work next to school south of Everett

After operating months without the right paperwork, OMA Construction applied for permits last week. The county found it still violates code.

Snohomish County Jail. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Arlington woman arrested in 2005 case of killed baby in Arizona airport

Annie Sue Anderson, 51, has been held in the Snohomish County Jail since December. She’s facing extradition.

Ken Florczak, president of the five-member board at Sherwood Village Mobile Home community on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How Mill Creek mobile home residents bought the land under their feet

At Sherwood Village, residents are now homeowners. They pay a bit more each month to keep developers from buying their property.

Lake Serene in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service)
How will climate change affect you? New tool gives an educated guess

The Climate Vulnerability Tool outlines climate hazards in Snohomish County — and it may help direct resources.

Shirley Prouty (Submitted photo)
Shirley Prouty, Arlington historian and grandma to all, dies at 92

Prouty chronicled “100 Years of Arlington” in a series of books. “She’d turn over any rock,” a former mayor said.

Arlington man suspected of DUI in fatal I-5 crash

Police said the man was driving the wrong way south of Tacoma and crashed into another car. Angelica Roberto Campos, 52, later died.

Feds fine Everett test lab for alleged animal welfare violations

Altasciences was cited for five alleged violations in the last two years that resulted in animal injuries and deaths.

Librarian Andrea Wallis leads activities during Toddler Storytime at the Main Everett Library on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett library trustees ‘ideally’ don’t want to merge with Sno-Isle

City finance staff see three options to deal with a $12.9 million deficit: a library merger, a fire department merger, or a new property tax.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.