Dear Friends, 

Washington State has been addressing water quality and quantity issues through various initiatives, programs, and collaborative efforts for more than 20 years. We have invested in programs that work towards sustainable water management that balances the needs of users, protects water quality, and ensures the availability of clean water for current and future generations. 

Our efforts reflect the state’s commitment to effective water governance and environmental stewardship in addressing the complex challenges related to water resources in Washington. A few examples of these programs in the three Counties in the 40th LD, as well as watersheds we share with the 42nd and 10th, include:

  • Skagit County River Watershed Control Program: Skagit county has implemented a watershed management plan to protect and enhance water quality in key local watersheds. The Skagit River and its tributaries are essential water sources for the communities surrounding it. This program minimizes pollution in the Skagit River and increases public health. 
  • Whatcom County Surface Water Management: Whatcom County’s Surface Water Management Division implements stormwater management programs. These work to improve water quality resilience through storms and extreme weather events. While also working with other agencies to respond to such events efficiently. 
  • San Juan County Marine Stewardship Area: San Juan County implements marine water quality protection programs, shellfish bed monitoring initiatives, and nearshore habitat restoration projects to safeguard coastal water quality. This program preserves critical habitats, and recovers bottom fish species by working to reduce toxins in the food-web. 

The state has implemented water conservation programs and incentives to promote efficient water use, reduce water waste, and protect water resources for future generations. Here in the 40th LD we can see these programs excel and truly make a difference. 

These initiatives bring us together, water connects us to the earth we live on, it is who we are. We all need all governing bodies to work together in science, policy, and regulations to ensure we make generational decisions for water quality and quantity. 

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday. 

Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Community Corner: Apprenticeships and Unions Included in Youth Education

Recently, I attended the Northwest Washington Construction Career Day, an event that showcased various career opportunities in the construction industry to local high school students.  We have such a great opportunity to rebuild programs into high school academics that provide future careers for youth. I was so excited to learn that over 450 students from Snohomish to Lynden were able to participate in career activities and each year the attendance of students and participants from all construction and trade careers is growing in numbers. 

The students were introduced to a variety of workstations, including hands-on experiences with heavy machinery under the supervision of experienced operators and apprentices.  Each of the stations were full of youth engaged in electrical wiring, crane operations, welding and piping, and cement from mixing to layout. Each of the booths were filled with youth in their hardhats, orange vests, and gloves and instructors who were hands on with each of them. The booths had a number of volunteers who shared their story with the youth of how they came into their trade, and each story resonated with the students. 

 In talking with one of the sponsor’s, Ryan, he shared how his two sons were part of his contracting company.  Ryan grew in the trade career, and he shared how he has helped so many young people find their career path by just giving them the opportunity and chance to explore what best fits their goals in life.  

“Our youth are exploring their futures, and we have to meet them where they are at in their search, and provide opportunities for them to find their path in life. They will love some things and they won’t others; and that is okay, we just need to let them know we are here for them and will always be there to help them.” As I walked through the event with Ryan his friendship with so many of the volunteers, young and old, was evident as so many of them knew him by his first name and shared a handshake and a smile.  

As I drove back to the Skagit, I reflected on what I learned from this day witnessing the youth’s excitement and curiosity as they listened and engaged in the activities. The day was marked by a spirit of collaboration among competing businesses, all working together to create new career pathways for the next generation. 

Union leaders, educational institutions, and trade associations joined forces, sharing resources and expertise to ensure attendees gained valuable insights into the construction field. This collective effort not only showcased the diverse opportunities within the industry but also highlighted the commitment to fostering a skilled and enthusiastic workforce for the future.

Celebrating India’s Independence Day 

I am so excited to join many of my legislative colleagues in support of India’s Independence Day on August 17th in Redmond! I was honored to meet Arun Sharma, founder of UTSAV and his colleague Rohan Khanduja at the Re – Elect Strom Peterson Kick Off Campaign event last week.  

Rep. Strom Peterson’s been a mentor and legislative colleague for many years, and his partnership to join Arun and Rohan at this historical event shared this wonderful announcement was truly yet another reflection of why I value his leadership.

Strom is currently serving as a state representative in the 21st legislative district, as well as a Snohomish County council member, and is the Chair of the Housing Committee. As we look towards this historic day together, I wanted to share my appreciation for a profound discussion with Arun and Rohan.

When we spoke, I was moved by a point in our discussion that our communities wish to be recognized for their distinct culture and values. It was highlighted how categorizing people by regions, both often experienced in America and globally, often merges diverse cultures into a single identity. This oversimplification can erode unique cultural identities and foster stereotypes, with some even expecting monolithic decision-making based on these broad regional labels.  

I learned so much and truly valued our discussion about the importance of people of different nationalities and colors meeting with the first Americans, the Native people of this Nation. This conversation resonated deeply. Such cultural exchanges are valuable and enriching for both communities through the sharing of traditions and values. 

There will be an event celebrating India’s Independence Day at Marymoor Park, on Saturday, August 17th. You can find more information in the image attached below!

According to Representative Peterson’s website

“State Representative Strom Peterson has been a champion for the people and quality life of the 21st District. Dedicated to serving with integrity and leading through collaboration, Strom has brought Legislators together on issues of safety, environmental protection, housing and health to get things done for us.

Prior to his election to the State House of Representatives, Strom served as an Edmonds City Councilmember where he focused on public safety, environmental sustainability, and a thriving local economy.”

I look forward to getting to celebrate the independence of the world’s largest democracy and the diversity in our district with you!

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in Washington 

The ongoing opioid epidemic is an issue that is felt by many in the community. Whether you yourself are currently struggling with addiction, or you are the loved one of someone who is struggling, I would like to remind you that you are not alone. While doing so I would like to provide you with hope by ensuring you that we are working hard to get people the help they need. 

Across Skagit County, Whatcom County, and San Juan County, tribal and local governments are actively engaged in addressing the fentanyl crisis and addiction, and behavioral health issues through multi-faceted approaches. This includes prevention, recovery, aftercare, housing, workforce development, family reunification efforts, and more. 

Starting with Skagit County, we see comprehensive support services, which include offering ongoing counseling, mental health interventions, and medicated treatment. 

Skagit County has also been providing housing assistance and supportive services including offering comprehensive housing options and workforce training and employment programs.

In Whatcom County, there are awareness campaigns and community forums to educate the public about the dangers of opioids and the signs of addiction. There is also a mobile crisis response team being implemented that provides immediate support for those who are in crisis, including those struggling with addiction and behavioral issues. 

Whatcom County is also implementing transitional housing programs that offer shelter and support services, as well as forming partnerships with local businesses and organizations to provide employment opportunities for those in recovery.

Finally in San Juan County, there are peer support and recovery groups that allow those in recovery to find a community built upon encouragement, understanding, and building long-lasting relationships. To help ensure that support is accessible, San Juan County is also providing telemedicine and remote counseling services.

San Juan County is also establishing transitional living facilities, and family reconciliation therapy sessions, to help assist in healing relationships and support families navigating addiction. 

By implementing these initiatives, tribal and local governments in Skagit, Whatcom, and San Juan County are working diligently to combat the fentanyl crisis, and address addiction and behavioral health issues. They are also working to support individuals and families through prevention and recovery efforts, aftercare, and helping equip people with their first steps by assisting them with items such as housing, workforce development, and family reunification efforts.

While our counties are working hard, it is important to highlight that there is work being done at all levels of government. Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell introduced a bill that would take Washington’s Health Engagement Hub program nationwide. 

The program It was started in Washington and would be implemented across the entire country. This program includes individuals suffering from substance abuse being able to access primary care, harm reduction, and FDA-approved treatments without an appointment.

According to Senator Cantwell:

“The Health Engagement Hub model was developed by Dr. Caleb Banta-Green at the University of Washington. The innovative hub model provides a one-stop shop where substance use disorder patients can receive near-immediate FDA-approved treatment (buprenorphine) and access primary care, harm reduction, and other social services without an appointment.”

Work is being done and will continue to be done to support those who need it, keep the community safe, and lessen the impact of an issue that is so impactful and widespread.

How Washington is Spending Opioid Settlement Funds

Now, while my colleagues and I in Olympia continue to address the root causes and lasting symptoms of the opioid epidemic, Washington is set to receive close to $1.6 billion in settlement funds from companies accused of fueling this epidemic. 

According to the Washington State Standard

“Local governments in Washington are expected to receive an estimated $373 million from the national settlement over the next two decades. They’ll also get about $645 million up until 2038 from $1.3 billion in various state settlements. The other half of the $1.3 billion will go to Washington’s state government. Other settlements still pending could yield additional money.

More than $4.3 billion from the nationwide settlement had been distributed as of late February, about $57 million of which has gone to over 100 cities and counties across Washington.” 

The State Standard goes on to detail how five counties are utilizing their funds to create programs that last beyond the settlement dollars, and I want to share a quick look at how each of these pockets of Washington are going about addressing the opioid epidemic. 

In King County, about three quarters of their dollars will go to community organizations aimed at supporting communities hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. This will include addiction and behavioral health treatment, but also surrounding support such as grief counseling for those impacted by overdose deaths. 

In Spokane County, $5.2 million is going to expand the Spokane Regional Crisis Stabilization Center, which will also introduce 23-hour immediate crisis and stabilization services. 

In Snohomish County, officials say the biggest need is creating access to addiction treatment that patients can utilize consistently. As the price of building a new brick and mortar location will be too great, Snohomish County plans to launch a mobile treatment center that can meet people where they are.

In Pierce County, Gig Harbor will use settlement money to hire a housing, health, and human services program manager who will work to bring existing services from the county to Gig Harbor. 

Finally, according to the State Standard, “Clark County is contracting with Carelon Behavioral Health, a behavioral health care management company based in Boston, to administer its settlement funds.”

These are all great steps forward, and it warms my heart to see our local governments provided with the resources they need to tackle difficult challenges facing their communities. I look forward to seeing how we can continue to help one another as more of the settlement funds come into Washington.

Styrofoam Ban Going Into Effect 

As we think about the future of our planet, we must always take steps today that will benefit the next seven generations to come. We can do so much today that will positively impact our world tomorrow, and Washington is taking such a step this weekend. 

Starting tomorrow, expanding polystyrene products, which includes Styrofoam, will be prohibited from sales in Washington. This will include the takeout materials that we all know, cups and plates and clamshell to-go containers, and will also cover things like packing peanuts and single-use coolers. 

According to the State Department of Ecology

“Expanded polystyrene materials are difficult to recycle, and it’s expensive. They aren’t accepted in most of Washington’s residential recycling programs and are treated instead as a contaminant. Because they are not readily recyclable, the materials end up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, or the environment. 

EPS materials are extremely brittle and break easily into tiny pieces. These small pieces scatter in the wind and contaminate the environment.”

While the Department of Ecology does have the authority to enforce fines against restaurants or food suppliers who do not comply, their first step will be to educate and help ensure that Washington’s businesses comply. 

This is a great step forward, and a simple action we have taken to prevent the addition of more harmful materials to our environment. Steps like this add up, and it is my firm belief that we are on the path to leaving a planet our grandchildren’s grandchildren can enjoy.


Finally, this week I am thrilled to endorse Representative Clyde Shavers as he runs for re-election in the 10th LD! 

Clyde Shavers is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and U.S. Navy Veteran, non-profit leader and volunteer, and environmental law advocate. As the son of a police officer and U.S. Marine, Clyde grew up in Washington in a family dedicated to public service.

A dedicated leader committed to making our economy work for all, Clyde Shavers has a proven track record of fighting to lower property taxes for seniors, veterans, and the disabled, capping medication costs, and securing increased retirement benefits. His support for affordable housing in Langley, Coupeville, Stanwood, and Arlington has made a real difference in our communities. 

With his unwavering dedication to lowering the cost of living, Clyde Shavers is the advocate we need. As a strong supporter of choice, environmental protection, and a voice for veterans and military families, Clyde Shavers will continue to stand up for American freedoms, fight for justice, and defend our democracy.

I am thrilled to endorse his campaign, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside him in Olympia.