In WSU Stormwater Runoff Research, Coho Salmon Die Quickly,Chum Survive

More data that shows how complicated the salmon recovery effort is.

On April 20, 2018, the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife News Bulletin reported that Washington State University (WSU) scientists discovered that different species of salmon have varying reactions to polluted stormwater runoff.

In a recent paper published in the journal Environmental Pollution, scientists found that coho salmon became mortally ill within just a few hours of exposure to polluted stormwater. But chum salmon showed no signs of ill- effects after prolonged exposure to the same water.

The study can be found at

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026974911734527X?via%3Dihub

“It really surprised us,” said Jen McIntyre, an assistant professor in WSU’s School of the Environment. “Not that the coho were affected so quickly, but how resistant the chum were. We saw no impact at all in the chum’s post-exposure blood work.”

Stormwater is toxic to fish because it can include carcinogenic hydrocarbons, metals, and other organic compounds, most of which have yet to be identified.

McIntyre and her team collected stormwater runoff in large tanks from a highway in western Washington. Then they placed salmon in that water for four hours or until the fish showed signs of illness. Blood samples were then taken from all of the fish.

Only a few coho lasted four hours before having to be removed. In blood tests, the team found a significant increase in lactic acid concentrations and their blood was much thicker. Their blood pH was thrown off and the amount of salt in their plasma decreased significantly.

The chum test results showed none of those changes, all these fish lasting the full four hours without showing any signs of distress or sickness.

 

“These fish are very closely related,” said McIntyre, who works at WSU’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center. “They’re the same genus, but obviously something is significantly different physiologically. We just don’t know what that difference is yet.”

The study was done at the Suquamish Tribe Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery, with fish donated by the Suquamish Tribe.

McIntyre worked on the project with fellow WSU scientists, along with colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

McIntyre and her team noticed a few clues for where to start their next round of investigations: studying what makes the chum nearly impervious to toxic runoff. One is that the coho appeared hypoxic, meaning they weren’t getting enough oxygen. But the water had plenty of oxygen, so they’ll look at blood circulation issues, how the fish metabolize oxygen in their muscles, and a few other areas.

“We don’t know if the thicker blood is a symptom of the problem, or if that’s the initiating event that then causes the oxygen deprivation,” McIntyre said. “There’s a lot of work still to come, but this really narrows down where we need to look.”

They’re also hoping that looking further into chum will turn up clues about how they resist the effects of toxic runoff.

In a later study, not included in this paper, McIntyre and her team conducted a prolonged exposure test on chum. Those fish swam in the stormwater runoff for four days and none of them got sick.

“We’re still trying to understand how they’re unaffected,” she said. “It’s actually really impressive.”

Another problem for the coho is that scientists don’t know what particular contaminants in the runoff are causing the problems.

“There’s a whole variety of heavy metals and hydrocarbons in that water,” McIntyre said. “And a whole bunch of chemicals we are working with scientists at the University of Washington in Tacoma to identify so that we can protect more delicate species like coho salmon from the effects of human pollution.”

McIntyre’s research is part of a grant from EPA.

For more information, Jen McIntyre can be reached at jen.mcintyre@wsu.edu.

Source:    http://www.cbbulletin.com/440562.aspx

 

 

What makes stormwater toxic?- Salish Sea Currents

Nice quick overview on stormwater and what is being done to better understand  and mitigate it.

Researchers are trying to determine which chemicals in stormwater are contributing to the deaths of large numbers of coho salmon in Puget Sound. It has prompted a larger question: What exactly is in stormwater anyway? Eric Wagoner reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/is/stormwater-mystery

Stormwater Pollution: Less Than Half Of Puget Sound Cities And Counties In Compliance – KNKX

Why we of the Jefferson Marine Resources Committee work cooperatively with the city and county on rain gardens and the like.

 http://nwpr.org/post/stormwater-pollution-less-half-puget-sound-cities-and-counties-compliance
Stormwater runoff is the largest source of pollution into Puget Sound. It comes from rain or snowmelt that travels over pavement and carries oil and other toxics into the water. New regulations under the federal Clean Water Act mean that 81 cities and counties around Puget Sound now have to update their building codes to address the problem. Two environmental groups just completed a scorecard to see how communities are handling this. Mindy Roberts is with the Washington Environmental Council, which teamed up with the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance to rate the communities. She said in many cases, contact from the environmental groups helped them improve their codes. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Rain Gardens Could Make Runoff Safe For Salmon – Sightline

 

The local Marine Resources Committees of the North Sound are working on a variety of rain garden projects, along with WSU. We’d love to have the funding to expand them. Think about protecting Chimicum Creek from the runoff of the Chimicum High School parking lot, which is only about 100 feet away.

When Northwest scientists collected rainwater runoff from Seattle’s Highway 520 and exposed juvenile salmon to the stormwater, all of the fish were dead within 12 hours.

Rain Gardens…

PT Event: Rain Garden Installation and Training Nov 20 and 25

The MRC rain garden project on Garfield Street, Port Townsend, will be installed next week. This project is in partnership with the MRC, City of Port Townsend and WSU Extension.  Rain gardens are a great way to mitigate storm water runoff that ends up in storm sewers that empty into the Salish Sea (check out the large one next to the Maritime Center in PT for example. It drains much of the streets above the site).
WSU Extension is also offering a 1-hour educational intro to rain gardens.  We’d love your participation for any of the associated activities—invite a friend!. Here’s a summary:
CATCHING THE RAIN: AN INTRO TO RAIN GARDENS  Thursday, November 20; 5 pm
Storm water from landscapes and roadways is the number one contributor of pollutants to Puget Sound.  Bob Simmons, Water Resources Specialist with WSU Extension, is providing a 1-hour seminar at the WSU Extension offices (380 Jefferson St, Port Townsend)  to help you learn what rain gardens are and how they work, and the four steps to creating and sustaining a rain garden.  WSU Rain Garden Handbooks (the newest “how to” manual from WSU) will be available at the workshop.   To register for the 1-hour program, call WSU Jefferson Extension at 360-379-5610 ext 200 or email wsujeffersoncounty@gmail.com .
 
INSTALLING RAIN GARDENS  Mon. Nov. 24 from 1-4 pm & Tues. Nov. 25 from 9 am-12
 
Sign up for a hands-on opportunity to help install a rain garden on Mon. Nov. 24 and/or Tues. Nov. 25 . To register for the installation project, see contact info above. You do not need to attend the evening lecture to volunteer for the installation.
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