Latest Puget Sound Partnership Straits Meeting


The quarterly meeting of local ecosystem recovery groups sponsored by the The Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) was held on Friday May 16th in Blyn. The PSP helps fund these  quarterly planning meetings with all the various groups that exist to protect and restore ecosystems, in order to disseminate information and to gather planning information for future funding efforts.  Our Strait of Juan de Fuca group is called the Strait ERN (for Ecosystem Recovery Network).

Some good news was that the extensive planning meetings that had helped us to identify and prioritize the vast array of projects (which can exist from something as large as the Elwha Dam removal to the restoration of one small locale, like the bulkhead removal at Fort Townsend), had shown that we had the largest list of projects from all the various ERN’s around the Sound.

These will be rolled back up to the planning efforts over the summer that the PSP is going to do in order to help seek funding in the next federal budget year, starting later this year.

Additionally, we heard information about sewage sludge, it’s collection and uses, including newly emerging concerns of it’s toxicity. A few short takeaways included that while King County routinely spreads it’s sludge on vast amounts of the forests above the East Side, where it is clearly leaching back into the water sheds and Puget Sound,  our two counties are composting it and reusing it. Compost with sludge in it is called “biosolids” and you should not be adding this compost to your family garden. It is more appropriate to flower gardens and other areas where you are unlikely to ingest it. Also, biosolid based compost cannot be used on organic food production.

Short term, we need more extensive testing to identify the vast array of chemicals that are not being treated in biosolids. The laws covering this were created decades ago, long before we were aware of the dangers of pass through drugs from our bodies. Better consumer knowledge is needed, and that is a federal and state issue.

Long term, it is likely we will need to incinerate our biosolids, in order to keep out the hazards of chemical contamination of our waters and food. Incineration is the only way to fully destroy these elements. It apparently reduces the waste stream to a very small amount, comparatively speaking.

It has been my contention that the continued dumping of our sewage into the Salish Sea is likely to be shown to be a root cause of the destruction of the waters, and this is another clear data point that this assumption is probably correct. The ability to incinerate our wastes, and remove storm water runoff would likely be a huge factor in restoring water quality.

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