Washing Laundry May Be An Underappreciated Source of Microplastic Pollution – Columbia University

More bad news on how our daily lives are affecting the planet.

Concerns over plastic in the ocean are growing in recent years. About 2.41 million tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year, including approximately 15,000 plastic bags per day. However, most of the plastic waste (94 percent) is made up of microplastics — pieces of plastic measuring less than five millimeters across. This summer, three interns at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory decided to focus their research on microplastics, specifically microbeads and microfibers. Mentored by Lamont marine biologist Joaquim Goes, the students Emmerline Ragoonath-De Mattos, Mariela Carrera, and Asya Surphlis uncovered a significant culprit of microplastic pollution that is largely overlooked: the washing of laundry…For now, there are products that consumers can buy to filter microfibers out in the washing machine. Two such options are products called Guppyfriend and the Cora Ball

Washing Laundry May Be An Underappreciated Source of Microplastic Pollution

Legal battles continue over dumping human waste in Puget Sound – KING

Like a tug coming up channel in the middle of the night, this could be seen coming a mile away. When the state, with the support of many environmental organzations, moved to ban all human waste from being dumped in Puget Sound, representatives came and presented to the Jefferson County Marine Resources committee (MRC) on what they proposed. The presenter, a very earnest younger person, discussed banning tugs from dumping waste overboard, and mentioned that they were hoping to grant a waiver extension for them to give them a few more years to revamp the tugs waste storage (which is essentially non existant as I’ve heard), I wondered whether or not they were really going to get support from the industry. It appears they haven’t.

The problem appears that most tugs were never designed with significant holding tanks, as many were built in the era when dumping overboard was the standard. Asking them to redesign what little room exists in order to build in larger holding tanks, if it’s even possible, was a big ask. I argued then, and argue now, that an exemption for existing working tugs should be found, and that new tugs should be designed for standard holding tanks.  If there are some arguements I’m not understanding in this debate, then please write and let me know. This seems like fighting over a very small issue in the larger scheme of things, and we have much larger fish to fry in saving Puget Sound and the Salish Sea.

Tug boat companies are suing the EPA to stop a Washington state ruling that bans the dumping of raw sewage in Puget Sound area waterways. Now, several environmental activism groups are getting involved in the legal fight. Last year, the Washington Department of Ecology created the Northwest’s first no discharge zone (NDZ), which would span 2,300 square miles from the Canadian border to the Discovery Island Lighthouse and waters east of the New Dungeness Lighthouse. It also would include Lake Washington, Lake Union, and connecting waters to Puget Sound…. Puget Soundkeeper is now one of several groups fighting back against a lawsuit that tugboat companies have filed against the EPA, which ruled that Puget Sound has enough pump-out stations to accommodate Ecology’s decision. They have joined the EPA as intervenors, along with the Washington Environmental Council and Friends of the Earth. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Legal battles continue over dumping human waste in Puget Sound

Trump administration rolls back protections on wetlands. Legal battle will ensue

The battle over the Clean Water Act has shifted into high gear. The EPA  has decided to rollback Obama era protections to wetlands. The definition of wetlands and their importance to underground aquifers has been established by science. That science has allowed the expansion of how pollution migrates to “navigable waterways” as defined by the CWA. That the ex-head of the EPA Scott Pruitt as well as the current (ex coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler has chosen on numerous occasions to ignore their scientists recommendations, to choose development and industry over protections means that the battle will shift to the states, where progressive states like ours, who have implemented strong Critical Areas Ordinances and Shoreline Master Plans, are capable of holding off the outcomes of this ruling. Likely a Supreme Court battle will ensue over the next few years.

NPRs version of the story here:

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/11/675477583/trump-epa-proposes-big-changes-to-federal-water-protections

NY Times article here:

Washington Post coverage:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/20/trump-to-roll-back-obamas-climate-water-rules-through-executive-action/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3787695342fe

National Resource Defense Council view

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/trumps-attack-clean-water-what-you-need-know

A right wing analysis of the rollback can be found here:

https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/421091-epa-restores-common-sense-to-overaggressive-water-regulations

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Hawaii approves bill banning sunscreen believed to kill coral reefs

Many of us on the peninsula take vacations to Hawaii. When I was last there, a year ago, I heard of this issue, which was new to me. I tried buying some of the “reef friendly” sunscreen but only found it in a specialty dive shop and not in the big grocery chains that most tourists use for groceries. The new lotion is more like what you use when climbing mountains to ward off sun burn at high altitudes. More sticky.

All this is yet another of the unintended consequences of human activity. Tens of millions of people have used the beaches of Hawaii since the 1930s slathering on lotion that, unbeknown to them, were killing the thing they traveled to see. Hopefully it’s not to late to see a reversal of the damage. It will be interesting to see how this affects the chemical composition of normal inexpensive sun screen.

Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing chemicals it says are contributing to the destruction of the state’s coral reefs and other ocean life. If signed by Gov. David Ige, it would make Hawaii the first state in the country to pass such a law and would take effect on Jan. 1, 2021…. The chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are used in more than 3,500 of the world’s most popular sunscreen products, including Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone and Banana Boat, would be prohibited. Vanessa Romo reports. (NPR)

Hawaii Approves Bill Banning Sunscreen Believed To Kill Coral Reefs

What’s killing the salmon? Long Live the Kings investigates decline in iconic fish – KCPQ

Good overview of what Long Live The Kings and Microsoft are doing to help us understand root causes of the decline of the salmon.

Salmon are a big part of life in the Pacific Northwest. But over the past couple of decades, they’ve declined to critical levels and researchers don’t know why. Solving the mystery is what nonprofit Long Live the Kings is working on, and thanks to a grant from Microsoft, technology is helping the nonprofit develop a comprehensive model to find clues to solve it. Long Live the Kings is looking into Puget Sound and the waterways the flow into it, more broadly known as the Salish Sea. This Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is tracking migration of fish through our marine environment to understand what’s affecting salmons’ mortality.  Simply, why do salmon keep dying? Tatevik Aprikyan reports. (KCPQ)

http://q13fox.com/2018/01/30/whats-killing-the-salmon-long-live-the-kings-investigates-decline-in-iconic-fish/

Japan’s nuclear disaster didn’t affect fish or human health on West Coast: B.C. scientist – Globe and Mail

The science, to date, does not show that there is a reason for concern over the releases in Fukushima. That’s good news but we need to keep up the monitoring. The plant is not safe yet and from what I’ve read, is still leaking highly radioactive water directly into the ocean. There are a lot of fake news sites out there with bogus information on Fukushima. I’ve been tracking the scientists who have been monitoring this issue since it happened, and feel confident that we have not yet encountered issues that would cause me to not eat fish or other ocean products from Alaska or the West Coast. I do not eat products from Japan anymore, because the deception being foisted on the fishermen by the government is quite bad. Read the Newsweek story linked below for more on that.

Radioactive contamination following a nuclear power-plant disaster in Japan never reached unsafe levels in the north Pacific Ocean for either marine life or human health, says a British Columbia scientist. Chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen of the University of Victoria has monitored levels of contamination from radioactive isotopes, used in cancer therapies and medical imaging, since the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011 following a tsunami triggered by an earthquake. Camille Bains reports. (Canadian Press)

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/japans-nuclear-disaster-didnt-affect-fish-or-human-health-bc-scientist/article36257317/

and a further follow up worth reading here.

https://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/10/us-watches-as-fukushima-continues-to-leak-radiation.html

and Newsweek seems to have the most current problems at the plant.

http://www.newsweek.com/fukushima-has-been-leaking-radioactive-water-may-tepco-didnt-tell-anyone-309442

 

Port Townsend drinking water free of toxins despite algae growth, officials say – PDN

Another possible effect of global warming? The end of our water source for Port Townsend. This is a canary in the coal mine kind of event. It isn’t necessarily about to end, but if this becomes a normal event, which is likely as the planet warms, then we need to start working on finding an alternative source of water, or a way to make the water purified.

Although recent tests on Port Townsend’s reservoirs have discovered they contain blue-green algae, which can create toxins, the water is safe for drinking, city officials said. City Manager David Timmons said Wednesday that results of tests for toxins, which arrived Sept. 20, showed levels lower than the minimum detection level. Cydney McFarland reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/port-townsend-drinking-water-free-of-toxins-despite-algae-growth-officials-say/

Study One Of First To Document Ecological Consequences Of Amphetamine Pollution In Urban Streams – ES&T

If they are in streams in Baltimore, they likely are here too.

Pharmaceutical and illicit drugs are present in streams in Baltimore, Maryland. At some sites, amphetamine concentrations are high enough to alter the base of the aquatic food web.

So reports a new study released today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, which is one of the first to explore the ecological consequences of stimulant pollution in urban streams.

“As society continues to grapple with aging wastewater infrastructure and escalating pharmaceutical and illicit drug use, we need to consider collateral damages to our freshwater resources.

http://www.cbbulletin.com/437365.aspx

From the Journal Environmental Science & Technology

State adopts ‘fish consumption rule’ after years of debate – Bellingham Herald/AP

Why does this matter? Because if a waterway is polluted, and the fish in it are too, the question of “how much polluted fish can people safely eat?” is not academic, but could raise or lower cancer rates, and possibly even birth defects,in the case of mercury.

The state of Washington has set very unrealistic amounts of fish consumption on purpose, so that polluters won’t be forced to clean up their businesses more than they already are doing. Now, the state has finally acted, ruling that the state is going to protect people that might eat approximately 175 grams a day, or about one serving. The current rule if far less than that, based more on one 7.5 ounce serving in a month! Given that we have a huge population of people that like fish, and might eat, in the course of a week, a lot more than that, this ruling will work, in the long run, to lower pollution in our waterways to protect fish and us.

Certainly, this is all going to take some time, to allow polluters to make changes, which could take a decade or more, but finally owning up to the reality of our fish consumption, will eventually lead to cleaner waters and healthier food.

Washington state regulators on Monday adopted new clean-water rules tied partly to how much fish people eat after years of heated debate over how clean the state’s water should be.

and the original post by Washington State Department of Ecology.

Dairy farmers tell state its rules on cow manure are too costly – AP

I’m afraid that I’m not on board with these new rules, unless we the tax payers are going to offer no interest loans or fund their needed work.  I want these dairies cleaned up, but am not willing to force them into it when this state could help them out. There is a middle way between forcing the change quickly or exempting huge amounts of dairies. Maybe a tax on all milk for 5 years to help fund the cost of the conversion?

The unintended consequence of this could be farms downsizing to just under the limit, or going out of business all together. Puget Soundkeeper Alliance has sometimes taken wrong approaches in the past to situations like this. It’s not the first time I’ve found myself disagreeing with their tactics. They often take too much of a “Big City” approach, and see the people in the hinterlands as easy targets.

Dairy farmers and environmentalists are criticizing new manure-control rules the state Department of Ecology plans to finalize early next year. The Capital Pressreported that at a public hearing on Tuesday, July 26, farmers said dairies already are heavily regulated and that Ecology’s new layer of mandates would be unnecessary and expensive…. After Tuesday’s hearing, Ecology’s special assistant on water policy, Kelly Susewind, said the department may consider redrawing the line and exempting more dairies…. Environmentalists testified that the department should require dairies to line lagoons with synthetic fabric to prevent leaks and to install wells to monitor groundwater. (Associated Press)

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/business/article92244202.html#storylink=mainstage

Mount Polley: Mines minister accepts scathing report but won’t resign – Globe and Mail

The disaster that keeps on giving by polluting the Fraser and the greater Salish Sea with toxic chemicals is still an active issue. BC’s ministers seem to be owned by the mine owners and not the people of BC, who they are suppose to be protecting. In China they just take people like Bill Bennett out to some hellhole in the desert for a fate unknown. It appears that those of us in Washington need to continue to ask our legislators at the Federal level to call into question our joint Treaty that is supposed to protect waters shared with both countries. Canada has been hard core at asking us to fix our problems in the past. Now it’s our turn.

B.C.’s minister of energy and mines said he will consider the recommendations from a damning report by the province’s auditor general that concluded his ministry’s regulation of the mining industry does not adequately protect British Columbians from significant environmental risks. However Bill Bennett did not agree with Auditor General Carol Bellringer’s finding that his ministry failed to carry out its own regulatory oversight in the case of the tailings-pond dam at the Mount Polley mine which failed in August 2014. Gavin Fisher reports. (CBC) See also: Alaska raises concerns with B.C.’s mining oversight after audithttp://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/alaska-raises-concerns-with-bcs-mining-oversight-after-audit/article29878365/ Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/mount-polley-mines-minister-accepts-scathing-report-but-won-t-resign-1.3567019

Puget Sound’s health filters through mussels – Kitsap Sun

This ought to be a clear reminder  that we a lot of work to do to reverse the inflow of toxins into the Salish Sea. This article shows that many toxins, including DDT, are still being found in shellfish all over the Bainbridge Island and east side of Hood Canal area. If they are there, they are in Port Townsend Bay and elsewhere around here. The Port Townsend Marine Science Center has been involved in the Mussel Watch program. I have been unable to find the data sets of the work they did over the last 10 years. Perhaps a reader can point me to it.

It’s so dark that Maradel Gale and her team of Bainbridge Beach Naturalists don’t see Manzanita Bay until their boots squish into its low tidelands. With only a few house lights along its rim and no sounds but lapping waves, the bay doesn’t seem like the best place to be poking around for pollution. But for Gale, the proof is in the mussels. She shines her headlamp on a few dozen black-shelled bivalves, neatly arrayed in mesh bags and locked in a steel cage. She placed the farm-raised mussels here three months ago to soak, and now it’s time to send them to the lab. Tristan Baurick reports. (Kitsap Sun)

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/local/puget-sounds-health-filters-through-mussels-2b5d0ae4-56c3-601f-e053-0100007f4843-368897131.html

FDA admits commonly used pesticide harms honeybees – Mother Jones and FDA

Mother Jones magazine has an article on a new government report out from the FDA that establishes clear risks to honeybees from the popular pesticide.

For more than a decade, the Environmental Protection Agency has been under pressure from environmentalists and beekeepers to reconsider its approval of a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, based on a mounting body of research suggesting they harm bees and other pollinators at tiny doses. In a report released Wednesday, the EPA basically conceded the case.

There has been great concern due to Colony Collapse disorder, along with large scale bee die off across the country in the last decade, corresponding to the introduction of this insecticide into the environment, promoted by huge chemical companies.

The FDA has ignored this problem for some time, but finally has put scientists that managed to gather data that can be taken seriously by regulators. Now the question will be whether the regulators will actually call for a ban or moratorium, or bow to pressure from the chemical companies to allow it to continue.

What is at stake is the ability for modern agriculture to exist. Without honeybees we are unable to cost effectively pollinate crops, if we can pollinate them at all. This is  a classic battle between corporate profit and the people that work for it versus a small group of very concerned individuals who have teamed up to try and get proper oversight into play.

This affects us on the Peninsula because the same kind of pesticides are being used by people ignorant of this issue, often on plants in their backyard. Additionally, all our waste water sources eventually end up in the sea, and that then brings in questions about fish, and other sea creatures. I am not aware of any study haging  been  done on whether this is being found in the Salish Sea, though given our knoweledge of the effects and quantities of fire retardants from our furniture having been found in significant amounts, I would assume this produce will be found as well.

Original ideas for this aricle came from Joe Breskin, who has been tracking this story for some time. https://plus.google.com/113677817925719341659/posts/FTGT6syrKBZ

The Mother Jones article along a link to the original FDA  document is found at:

http://m.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2016/01/epa-finds-major-pesticide-toxic-bees

More on the Victoria Sewage Debate – Comment on Times Colonist

The propaganda campaign continues from the people in Victoria that want to stop the idea of doing better sewage treatment. For those not current on this problem, Victoria is the only major metropolitan area in the entire Salish Sea that is not treating their sewage, but dumping approx. 82 Million liters of raw sewage a day, into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There have been numerous letters from noted scientists, politicians, citizen activists, and average people, demanding a change to this and the building of a sewage treatment plant. This has been going on for decades, as the problem worsens.

Today, the Times Colonist, published a letter from a former District Medical Health Officer (89-95), Dr. Shaun Peck, who claimed “many studies have shown that this practice has minimal impact on the marine environment and the plume cannot be detected 400 meters (1312 feet) from the end of the outfalls).”

A quick search of Youtube comes up with a video made by a diver, showing the accumulated sewage sediment on the seabed and marine life 5 kms (16000 feet) away from the McCauley Point outflow.  It hardly looks like healthy normal marine sediment you would expect in areas not near an outfall.  The diver has over 35 years of experience diving this area, as he discusses in the narrative. While not a scientific sampling, the narrative history, along with the science that has been discussed by numerous PhD level scientist who have come out in agreement with a new treatment plant, points to an ongoing history, told by numbers and by visual evidence of those who have dived the area, make a story that is hard to ignore.

Additionally, many samples checking for coliform bacteria up to 10 kms from the outfalls are showing numbers vastly higher than safe levels.

The YouTube Video by diver James Skwarok

Additionally, let’s review more facts of today, not 1991 (which Dr. Peck relies on).

  • Environment Canada has closed 60 square kilometers around the outfalls to all shellfish harvest;
  • The plume from the outfalls hits the water surface under various conditions, which raises concerns for humans who are engaging in primary contact recreation in these areas (wind and kite surfers)
  • Toxicity tests show that Victoria’s sewage is toxic to rainbow trout fry, water fleas, blue mussel larvae, and oyster larvae;
  • Nineteen chemicals found in the sewage are  found on the seafloor and exceed  the Contaminated Sites Regulation. For any one exceedances a site is considered to be sufficiently contaminated to be designated as a contaminated site;
  • Twenty-eight chemicals found in Victoria’s sewage are in concentrations that exceed water quality guidelines for the protection of fish and aquatic life, some exceed the guidelines by nearly 85 times;
  • Toxicity tests at Macaulay Point outfall indicated exposure to sediments from this location resulted in significantly reduced survival or growth of polychaete worms and survival and normal development of blue mussel larvae; and
  • No studies have been conducted in the vicinity of the two outfalls to evaluate the effects of pharmaceuticals and personal care products on aquatic organisms or aquatic-dependent wildlife.
  • (all from http://www.victoriasewagealliance.org/index_files/FactsVictoriaSewageAlliance.htm)

And to clarify for Dr. Peck, as it is  stated at the   Victoria Sewage Alliance web site, “dilution does not get rid of what’s in sewage (organics, pathogens like hepatitis, heavy metals or chemicals) ”

Dr. Peck refers to a book from 1991 called the “Victoria’s Sewage Circus” as some kind of scientific treatise on the subject, ‘providing evidence of the …effectiveness” of the system, but the book, which is available on the Internet for free today, is a lightly written attack on anyone claiming to believe that the then current system of outfall is not adequate. It uses a lot of science that goes back many decades previous to the 1991 publishing of the book, and using this as some kind of reference guide, is using seriously outdated and non specific data. For example, there are no actual pointers to specific scientific peer review capable literature in the book, and there is no bibliography or source reference listing to find the original science that the author is referring to. Much of the book reads not much different than a generalist wanting to convince the unconvinced, rather than putting real scientific data on the specifics of the Victoria outfalls in front of the reader. It adds nothing new to the debate. The book can be found here: http://www.members.shaw.ca/sewagecircus/index.html 

Dr. Peck goes on to claim,” We do not have industrial runoff such as that which occurs from the Duwamish Canal and other sources in Puget Sound.” again without referring to any study or the particular runoff  that would prove that  claim. To be clear, Victoria most definitely has industrial runoff, if nothing else waste from dry cleaners, that may use PERC in their facilities, for example.  It may not have a Boeing plant, or some such industry particular to Seattle, but the Dr. needs to clarify what chemicals that Seattle has flowing into the Dumawish today, not 50 years ago, that Victoria doesn’t have.

So when you read things like Dr. Peck or run into friends in Victoria that don’t support the building of the sewage treatment plant (yes, I’ve met young people who claim to be very environmentally aware and who think that the current situation is just fine), please point them to facts that can help them understand the problem, and why people like Dr. Peck, for reasons that are really not clear, joins a contingent that is still in denial about something that many other scientists have clarified. This deflecting  of Victoria’s lack of sewage treatment by saying that those of us in Washington State have not solved the problem any better, quoting from  People For Puget Sound (of which I was a board member for a number of years) to prove a case that is not even being made (the issue being debated  isn’t comparing Duwamish industrial  water run off with Victoria sewage) is pure propaganda. We in Washington state recognize the problems and are working on solving them, even when they likely include having to fix Victoria’s fecal coliform and heavy metals, etc. issues that end up in our waters. It’s time we stop pretending that what comes out Victoria’s outflows somehow doesn’t effect us here. For one thing, the fish that pass through that sewage don’t just stay there. We likely eat them. So we should be celebrated for taking on the hard work, instead of ridiculed.

If any of you need more convincing that Dr. Peck is either purposely or not, feeding the propaganda machine for not spending the money to build a better treatment system, and allowing Victoria to join the rest of the cities around the Salish Sea that have recognized the threat of untreated sewage in total to the health of the Sea, then I direct you to the numerous letters of support, along with more facts and studies, at the web site run by the Victoria Sewage Alliance, http://www.victoriasewagealliance.org/index.htm

The article in the Times Colonist by Dr. Peck is here.

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-crd-should-seek-waiver-of-federal-sewage-rules-1.2038020

Nitrates, fecal coliform from dairies linked to tainted shellfish, tap water -KOMO News

As the work continues to craft a Critical Areas Ordinance in our county, one of the key new issues is including Agriculture in it. (they were exempted in previous versions due to political pressure as mentioned in this report). This quick report highlights the concerns of those in the environmental community for crafting buffers from streams that work. Our county has been a leader in cooperative work between the farmers and those trying to restore streams such as Chimicum Creek. Hopefully we can leverage that work into something even more productive, without being heavy handed. But we also can’t just “give away the farm” so to speak. Here’s why:

Shellfish, swimming beaches, and the tap water for thousands of people in certain areas of Washington state are being contaminated by pollutants running off farms, and critics say dairy cows are the chief culprit, according to a KOMO 4 Problem Solvers investigation. Government regulators are failing to halt that pollution largely because of insufficient laws, pressure from the agriculture industry and too little enforcement, the Problem Solvers review found. Voluntary compliance and good intentions from many dairy farmers have not been enough to prevent dangerous contaminates generated by manure from getting into waters of Washington state. Only one percent of Washington’s roughly 700 dairy farms – some with thousands of cows at one facility – have a permit to pollute, say state agencies. Jeff Burnside reports. (KOMO)

http://www.komonews.com/news/problemsolvers/Nitrates-fecal-coliform-from-dairies-linked-to-tainted-shellfish-tap-water-283557361.html

Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish  – Bellingham Herald

As if you needed to better understand the importance of rain gardens, stormwater runoff and salmon, after my last post, here’s the next thing in my inbox. Another recent experiment that shows the affects that stormwater has on aquatic species.

Just hours into the experiment, the prognosis was grim for salmon that had been submerged in rain runoff collected from one of Seattle’s busiest highways. One by one, the fish were removed from a tank filled with coffee-colored water and inspected: They were rigid. Their typically red gills were gray….. This was the fate of coho salmon exposed to the everyday toxic brew of dirt, metals, oil and other gunk that washes off highway pavement after rains and directly into Puget Sound. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/11/16/3977239_scientists-study-stormwater-deadly.html

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.

Stealing Fish To Study Seabirds- Earthfix

As anyone who has bird watched around these parts in the last 20 years can tell, it’s pretty clear we have lost seabird populations. Now some new scientific data has come out on the problem.

Seabird populations in Puget Sound have declined since the 1970s and scientists believe pollution is partially to blame. But how do you prove that? Study what the seabirds are eating. A new paper [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X14004226] published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin found that seabirds in Puget Sound are eating fish that are two to four times more contaminated than fish on Washington’s outer coast. Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/stealing-fish-to-study-seabirds/

Proposed Emergency Legislation Aims To Address Starfish Wasting Syndrome – KPLU

The scientific community apparently needs more help to figure out what is happening to kill off much of our west coast starfish. It’s important to note that this is *not* happening off the African coast, and elsewhere. Something has changed in our waters, and a key link in the environmental chain is vanishing. This is an ecological disaster, and I’m happy to see Representative Heck take a leadership role in trying to find funds at the Federal level for this research. If the answers are worse than we expect, it could be a very crucial problem to solve.

Most people who’ve grown up in the Northwest can remember walking on the beach as a kid, enjoying tide pools full of brightly-colored starfish. But beachcombing has become less joyful over the past year. An epidemic known as sea star wasting syndrome has devastated huge populations of starfish, especially on the West Coast. U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, has introduced an emergency act in Congress to respond to the outbreak. The syndrome was first noticed in Washington waters last summer and has spread rapidly since. White lesions appear on the skin of affected starfish which then curl up, contort and disintegrate. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

http://kplu.org/post/proposed-emergency-legislation-aims-address-starfish-wasting-syndrome

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