New Rule Bans Vessels From Releasing Sewage Into Puget Sound – AP

Recreational and commercial vessels will not be able to release treated or untreated sewage into Puget Sound waters under new rules approved by the state. The Department of Ecology on Monday officially designated a new “no discharge zone” in Puget Sound to improve water quality and protect shellfish beds and swimming beaches from harmful bacteria. Under rules that begin May 10, boats will not be allowed to pump sewage, whether treated or not, into waters in an area that extends from near Sequim to south Puget Sound to the Canadian border. Lake Washington is included. Boats would need to use a pump-out station or wait until they are out of the zone. There are dozens of such zones across the country, but this is the first in Washington state. (Associated Press)

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/washington/articles/2018-04-10/new-rule-bans-vessels-from-releasing-sewage-into-puget-sound

New Report Details Path to Improve Puget Sound Water Quality–and Recover Wild Salmon Populations -eNews Park Forest

More fuel for the fire of what actually has to be changed to succeed at cleaning up Puget Sound.

The Western Environmental Law Center announces a new report, Agricultural Pollution in Puget Sound: Inspiration to Change Washington’s Reliance on Voluntary Incentive Programs to Save Salmon. Puget Sound’s poor water quality is a problem for ecosystem health, wild salmon and shellfish. Our state and federal government spend taxpayer money on programs designed to fix the pollution problem, but recently only two of 17 reporting regions in Puget Sound showed any improvements in water quality. The Washington Department of Ecology acknowledges significant declines in Puget Sound water conditions and the Puget Sound Partnership reported in 2015 that of 27 vital sign indicators, only 10 show improvements and “few are at—or even within reach of—their 2014 interim targets.” (eNews Park Forest)

New Report Details Path to Improve Puget Sound Water Quality–and Recover Wild Salmon Populations

After 25 Years Of Pollution Prevention, Wash. State Working Toward Greener Chemicals – KPLU

A good quick overview of the next wave of pollution control. Focusing on engineering right from the start. The only way to really fix the problem, frankly.

It has been 25 years since the federal government passed the Pollution Prevention Act. The 1990 law is credited with reducing industrial waste by as much as 60 percent since it was enacted, by getting companies and governments to look upstream at what goes into the manufacturing process and stopping pollution at the source. But the effectiveness of that approach appears to have limits. With many toxic chemicals remaining, especially in consumer products, additional strategies are needed. And that’s where states come in. Washington is considered a pioneer. Ken Zarker, a section manager for pollution prevention with the State Department of Ecology,  says Washington has 8 or 9 laws on the books that are looked to by experts as model legislation for the reduction of toxic chemicals. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

http://kplu.org/post/after-25-years-pollution-prevention-wash-state-working-toward-greener-chemicals-0

Did the US Navy Break Federal Laws to Push War Games Over National Forests? – Truth Out

The continuing saga of the Navy taking over more land, sea and air space, with the implied notion that they “own” it. We need a good lawyer out here that can stop this nonsense.  A good read by Truth-Out’s local writer Dahr Jamail.

“The Navy has an astonishing sense of entitlement to public lands and waters,” Sullivan said about how the Navy has approached the public’s concerns over its operations. “Northwest Training and testing range manager Kent Mathes told me last year after a public meeting, ‘We own the airspace and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.'”

As Truthout previously reported, if it gets its way, the Navy would be flying Growler jets – electronic attack aircraft that specialize in radar jamming – in 2,900 training exercises over wilderness, communities and cities across the Olympic Peninsula for 260 days per year, with exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day. Naval surface fleet ships will also be participating by homing in on ground-based emitters – a topic that was never discussed in the Navy’s environmental assessment.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33387-us-navy-allegedly-broke-federal-laws-to-push-forward-electromagnetic-war-training-over-national-forests

UW Study finds stormwater runoff killing salmon and other fish – UW

It seems to me that there has never been a clearer outcome of a study that allows us take simple action to save our salmon runs. Rain gardens anyone?

The long awaited study from the University of Washington on the toxic effects of stormwater runoff from roads is now complete. The study, which has been documented on this web site previously, showed that runoff captured from highway 520 near the Montlake Cut, was lethal enough to kill fish exposed to it.

Untreated highway runoff, collected in nine separate storm events, was universally lethal to coho relative to unexposed controls. Lastly, the mortality syndrome was prevented when highway runoff was pretreated by soil infiltration, a conventional green stormwater infiltration technology.

The study is found here https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2451727-spromberg-et-al-in-press-j-appl-ecol.html

Longer story on it at the Seattle Times.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/whats-killing-coho-study-points-to-urban-road-runoff/?utm_source=Sightline+Institute&utm_medium=web-email&utm_campaign=Sightline+News+Selections

Low levels of oil pollution harm herring, salmon, study finds – Seattle Times

Our knowledge of the effects of even low levels of oil on fish populations continue to grow. This will have impacts on our port, and points to more needs for storm water solutions that include eventual re-design of almost every highway in the state, to stop car runoff into our waterways. It won’t happen overnight, but is happening and will continue to, given these findings. It’s our food sources vs. business as usual with autos.

Federal scientists based in Seattle and Alaska have found that oil — by impairing heart functions — can cause serious harm to herring and pink salmon at far lower concentrations than previously documented. The research, published Tuesday online in Nature’s Scientific Reports, could help unravel the mystery of why herring stocks in Prince William Sound collapsed after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Their work also has implications about the effects of low levels of chronic oil pollution in Puget Sound and elsewhere in the world. “What this study shows is that in very, very low concentration of oil, embryonic fish … get born with a mild heart defect,” said John Incardona, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration toxicologist at a Seattle fisheries science center. He is one of 10 co-authors of the study. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/lower-levels-of-oil-pollution-harm-herring-and-salmon-study-finds/

Populated Puget Sound sees stark shifts in marine fish species – Phys. Org

Those of us who have been working on protecting and restoring Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea, have known for years that human population growth is the biggest root cause of the decline in the waters. More science now arrives to point to that as well. It’s the underlying concern that we are not going to rehabilitate our waters to the levels we expect, without some pretty profound changes in land use, and our incessant demand to pour all our waste waters into the Sound as our toilet. And don’t get me started on Canadian lack of interest in protecting their waters. They are going backwards far faster than we are going forward on this issue.

The most populated areas of Puget Sound have experienced striking shifts in marine species, with declines in herring and smelt that have long provided food for other marine life and big increases in the catch of jellyfish, which contribute far less to the food chain, according to new research that tracks species over the last 40 years. The parallel trends of rising human population and declining forage fish such as herring and smelt indicate that human influences such as pollution and development may be eroding species that long dominated Puget Sound. In particular, the rise of jellyfish blooms may divert energy away from highly-productive forage species that provide food for larger fish and predators such as salmon, seabirds and marine mammals. The research by scientists from NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the University of Washington and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was published in April in Marine Ecology Progress Series. (Phys.Org)

http://phys.org/news/2015-05-populated-puget-stark-shifts-marine.html

New proposed rules on fish consumption by Governor Inslee and DOE

The Govenor has issued a policy brief, on the issue of reducing toxic pollution called “No Single Source, No Single Solution”. In it, he explains that the Clean Water Act has been beneficial, but that new tools are needed to address emerging sources of toxic pollution. Why should you care? 

If you eat fish, especially locally caught fish, you are eating some amount of toxic pollution. The government has arbitrarily decided that the amount you eat that may be harmful is a very small portion. Most people in the NW eat much more than that portion weekly. If the government is serious about reducing the amount of toxins in your fish, it needs to force polluters not to put that in the water in the first place. Who are those polluters? Many companies are small polluters, that might be able to work with Ecology to reduce their pollution. However, there are others, that are iconic here, such as Boeing, that  see this as a distinct threat to their continued profits. They will strongly oppose this.

There are lots of good that can come from this, not just from regulating Boeing, but all the other point sources of pollution. Read the Governor’s policy brief for a more comprehensive overview, so I don’t have to repeat it here.

To quote from the WDOE press release:

The state’s updated water quality standards would ensure that no standard, except naturally occurring arsenic, becomes less protective. Seventy percent of the new standards would be more protective. Most would be from two to 20 times more protective. The remaining 30 percent of the standards would maintain the current protective standards and would not backslide. Because arsenic occurs naturally at high levels in Washington, Ecology proposes the updated arsenic standard align with the federal drinking water standard.

Ecology’s cost-benefit analysis on the updated water quality standards indicates the new standards would create minimal costs to water dischargers. Although there would be approximately 55 new polluted water listings under the proposed standards, the new water pollution listings would not immediately result in new requirements for any exist.

It’s hard to say whether, in this current legislature, the Governor’s proposal will move beyond a proposal. But it is a good idea, and it is worth supporting. It is better than the current situation.

Inslee’s pollution solution: tackle water toxics at source – AP via Bellingham Herald

Just last night at a meeting I was attending, someone brought this issue up. The abstract battle of the state setting the safe amount of fish to eat actually pits industrial giants like Boeing against tribal and other people who eat far more than the ‘usual’ amount of fish that the average American eats. If the state takes a stand on saying that larger portions are ‘safe’ then they have to do more regulations to limit industrial output of pollution. The notion of moving the authority upstream is one that environmental activists have pushed for over the last two decades.

Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing legislation to protect state waters by tackling pollution at its source and giving a state agency the authority to potentially ban the worst chemicals in products before they get into the environment. ….Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/01/07/4065456_inslees-pollution-solution-tackle.html

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

Author Naomi Klein on the free market and global warming – CBC

Author and activist Naomi Klein just won the  $60k Hilary Weston Prize for her book about climate change, ‘This Changes Everything’. This is a very thought provoking interview that should give you good reason to read it. While the government of our neighbors to the north in Canada race to be match China by being the most polluting country on the planet, willing to trade any environmental protection for the almighty and in this case, appropriately named, Loonie, Naomi has focused whether the very fundamental nature of the free market is dooming us all. If you aren’t interested in reading a long book, then try a sample of her thoughts.

http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/features/2014/10/15/naomi-klein-hilary-weston-prize/

Shellfish Tell Puget Sound’s Polluted Tale – Earthfix

It’s always been a question mark in my mind, about how much of the bad stuff in the Sound are we eating with our delicious meals of shellfish. Now we know. And it’s a good word of caution that if you are regularly eating shellfish, that buying them from growers who are away from urban environments, or harvesting them yourself in remote places, is the best rule of thumb. And it also gives us a very easy way  to measure the recovery efforts at work. The bad news is that PCBs, long banned, continue to be found in the water, as do flame retardants. Both are cancer causing. It points out that storm water runoff and our crazy notion that we can pour our sewage into our Sound, have consequences for us.

Scientists used shellfish to conduct the broadest study to date of pollution levels along the shore of Puget Sound. And in some places, it’s pretty contaminated. This past winter the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put mussels at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound. After a few months, volunteers and WDFW employees gathered the shellfish and analyzed them for metals, fossil fuel pollution, flame-retardants and other chemicals. The WDFW just released the results. [http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01643/] Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/shellfish-tell-puget-sounds-polluted-tale/

Thoughts on the Mount Polley Tailing Mines Disaster – What it means to us

The ongoing nightmare on Quesnel Lake from the Mount Polley Tailing “Pond”, has huge ramifications for us in Washington State and the Olympic Peninsula. This fiasco is being whitewashed by the politicians from both the Provincial and the Federal level in Canada. The official line is ‘it’s not that bad” when the truth is it’s likely far worse than anyone imagines. Huge amounts of highly toxic materials, including the possibility of radioactive material (that is now being discussed in official circles), pose grave downstream risks to the Salish Sea  and the wildlife that passes through it on their way elsewhere.

The primary talked about toxin in this stew is mercury. Lots of it. It’s used in this kind of mining and ends up being a by-product that can’t be removed,  just managed. We already deal with mercury in our fish, to a manageable degree, and it’s affects are well known and avoided. However, without knowing how much mercury might be in the tailings that are now in the Lake, the government has been suggesting that there is nothing to fear from the water. Let’s be clear, mercury ingested in significant amounts can cause Minamata’s Disease. Look it up on Wikipedia. It was highlighted in a Pulitzer Prize winning article in Life Magazine in the 1970s, photographed by Eugene Smith, when an entire village in Minamata Japan suffered from horrible birth defects because of unregulated mercury poisoning. The Canadian Government is putting it’s people at serious risk by inaction. And us too. 

To quote part of the Wikipedia article:

Symptoms (of mercury poisoning and Minamata Disease) includeataxianumbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision, and damage tohearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanityparalysiscoma, and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect foetuses in the womb.

All these were experienced in Japan in the 70s in Minamata. 

And this is just one of the toxins that was contained behind this tailing dam. 

Without immediate work to setup coffer dams and drain the areas around the spill in Quesnel Lake, we may see a huge amount of mercury, along with other toxins, enter the Salish Sea,  and undoubtably affect the Sockeye that come out of Quesnel, one of the largest sockeye spawning habitat in Canada.

These fish make up the primary food of the remaining local pods of Orcas. And our fishermen catch them and we eat them. Lots of them. In other words, our fishing industry and our Orcas could be at risk.

We need our politicians to act now, to demand that the Canadian government stop pretending this not a serious problem and begin cleanup of this spill. There has been to date, no work begun on cleaning up the spill! (as of Sunday August 24)

This is not just about the lame excuses that Victoria and their muzzled scientists gives us about how they think their untreated sewage is not affecting the Straits. This is about possibly poisoning our fish and ourselves. And if we don’t stop it soon, it may be permanent. An oozing toxic mess that’s not cleaned up will pose a threat for decades to come. Just ask the folks at Hanford. The  comments coming from high level government Canadian officials are true doublespeak.  To be clear, the simplest way of understanding this is that if the massive amounts of tailing waste were not a danger to human health and the environment why are they held behind these ponds in the first place? It’s because they have been proven, for over 100 years, to be very harmful, if not deadly, to plants and animals, including us! There is no ‘lucky break’ (as stated by a senior government official) in a dump of this magnitude, there is only a bad outcome of various magnitudes.

The mine managers and the regulators that refused to enforce the laws, have created an environmental disaster of monumental proportion that has yet to fully unfold. What matters now is protecting the entire river systems that will carry this muck to the ocean. And protect the drinking water that might be pulled out of the river for human consumption. 

What’s the possibility of the US having a significant say in this issue? Read the following excellent article about our treaties with Canada, and the power that we have to force them to change legally. And remember that it’s because we have a Democratic, environmentally supportive president that we can read something like this. In a different previous era, our government would likely have been looking the other way in support of rampant environmental degradation.

Stephen Hume: Political fallout from Mount Polley mine spill may come from U.S.

UH study: High levels of mercury found in fish substitutions – KITV.COM

Disturbing new study from University of Hawaii. Looks like Sea Bass may be off the list of food to eat, since it’s impossible to know where it really came from. Or which part of the sales chain is falsifying the data. It appears to be the people sourcing it.

HONOLULU —New measurements from fish purchased at retail seafood counters in 10 different states show the extent to which mislabeling can expose consumers to unexpectedly high levels of mercury, a harmful pollutant, according to a new study from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Read more: http://www.kitv.com/news/uh-study-high-levels-of-mercury-found-in-fish-substitutions/27594146#ixzz3Ard63ZMK

Original Study named:

Seafood Substitutions Obscure Patterns of Mercury Contamination in Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) or “Chilean Sea Bass”

Mussels Unlocking Secrets to What’s In the Water – KOMO News

This short story by KOMO on the efforts of various environmental groups to carry out a federally funded program to test waters for pollutants via filter feeders, or mussels. The good news is that high levels of pollutants were not found in more remote areas (like Jefferson County), but that where the high levels were found, we are still seeing problems from PCBs, paint toxins and other chemicals that were banned decades ago.

Port Angeles and Hood Canal have been part of the program, but apparently Hood Canal was not tested in 2008. PA appears to be not polluted enough to worry about.

The one thing to remember is that these filter feeders do collect toxins. If you want to protect yourself while eating filter feeders, always ask where they were harvested.

If you’d like to explore the results of the program nationally, including all the sites in the Salish Sea, go to this web site:

http://stateofthecoast.noaa.gov/musselwatch/welcome.html

This program has been ongoing for 20+ years, so we are able to now see long term trends in the analysis of the data.

KOMO story is here:

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Mussels-Unlocking-secrets-to-whats-in-the-water-267569071.html

How Long Does Garbage Last In the Ocean? – Art by Erica Wasner

Shared out by our friends at Ocean Defender in Hawaii – www.oceandefenderhawaii.com Worth sharing with kids. Great for getting a beach walk and bringing along a bag for the garbage.

How Long Does Garbage Last In The Ocean?

In the Bowels of the City, Blocking Wastewater Overflows – NY Times

The New York Times today reports of a new method of slowing combined sewer overflow. Given the expensive and earthquake prone methods that Port Angeles is currently proposing, this seems like an interesting alternative.

It happens dozens of times a year, undermining water quality, closing beaches and endangering aquatic life: Hit by major rainfall, New York’s sewers release raw sewage and polluted storm water into New York Harbor. These “overflow events” account for an estimated 27 billion gallons of pollutants annually in the city’s waters.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/nyregion/in-bowels-of-new-york-city-inflatable-dams-help-block-wastewater-overflow.html

Biochar presentation. What’s that? Sept 26th 3:30 to 5 PM

For immediate release
Contact: Darcy McNamara: darcym@wsu.edu or 360/379-5610 x222

Biochar: A New Way to Cleaner Water

Howard Sprouse is the guest speaker at a presentation on “biochar” a material that has exciting applications for removing pollution from water. The free presentation, which will begin with an overview of low impact development techniques, will be held on Wednesday, September 26 at the Jefferson County Library, 620 Cedar Avenue, in Port Hadlock from 3:30 to 5pm.

Participants will learn what biochar is, how it is made, costs involved and how it could be used to improve water quality. Industry and development professionals including engineers, landscaper designers, builders, contractors, developers, architects, environmental consultants and farmers are encouraged to attend. The free presentation is open to the public and is hosted by WSU Jefferson County Extension with support from the Watershed Stewardship Resource Center.

Biochar is a charcoal-like material that can be used as a soil amendment to raise the fertility of the soil to enhance plant growth. It is now being studied for the potential it has to remove contaminants from water. Sprouse and others at WSU Extension are studying the potential use of biochar to remove pollutants from stormwater including copper, cadmium and lead.

About the presenter:
Howard Sprouse is the President and CEO of the Remediators, Inc., a developer of bioremediation technologies since the mid 1990s. Mr. Sprouse previously worked as a consultant for Battelle’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim, Washington assisting with the development of mycoremediation technology. His work there assisted projects aimed towards remediation of petroleum hydrocarbons, biological agents, pathogen degradation, and biofiltration of agricultural runoff. Mr. Sprouse has also worked for the Department of Botany, University of Washington, as a research assistant for fungal ecology research in Olympic National Park. He is recognized in the bioremediation industry as the first to commercialize mycoremediation technology in the United States and as a developer of technology using biochar. His business, The Remediators Incorporated is located in Washington State where they do a variety of environmental based services.

For more information, please contact Darcy McNamara, LID and Natural Resources Educator at darcym@wsu.edu or 360/379-5610 x222.

Clean Water Act’s Anti-Pollution Goals Prove Elusive – Earthfix

Earthfix article on the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. This article highlights how hard it is to achieve these lofty goals.

http://earthfix.opb.org/water/article/anti-pollution-goals-elude-clean-water-act-enforce/

Upgraded wastewater treatment plant makes the Stilly sweet

While out of the area news, I thought I would publish this because of the quote of the plant manager drinking the treated sewage water as proof that it’s cleaned. We like that idea.

5/28 Everett Herald
Upgraded wastewater treatment plant makes the Stilly sweet
By Gale Fiege, Herald Writer

ARLINGTON — The city’s public works director is so proud of Arlington’s newly expanded and upgraded sewer plant that he’s sad the project is finally over after six years.

And don’t force him, but James Kelly is willing to prove his pride by drinking the water that flows from the plant into the Stillaguamish River.

“If you can get over the gag factor, it’s perfectly safe and probably better water than you would find in much of the world,” Kelly said.

More at
http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110528/NEWS01/705289948/-1/News

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