Pollution Control Strategies
There are many sources of pollution in Puget Sound, and polluted waters are a major concern for the health of the ecosystem. Fertilizers, toxic chemicals, and runoff from roads and parking lots harm wildlife and create health risks for people living in the region. Stopping the contamination at its source is an important step towards an ecosystem-based management approach that will improve habitat and quality of life for the human population and the hundreds of species that live in the Sound. The Puget Sound Action Agenda identifies six primary strategies (listed below).
- Prevent pollutants from being introduced into the Puget Sound ecosystem to decrease the loadings from toxics, nutrients, and pathogens.
- Use a comprehensive, integrated approach to managing urban stormwater and rural surface water runoff to reduce stormwater volumes and pollutant loadings.
- Prioritize and complete upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities to reduce pollutant loading.
- Establish and maintain locally coordinated, effective on-site sewage system management to reduce pollutant loading to vulnerable surface and ground waters.
- Prioritize and continue to implement toxic cleanup programs for contaminated waterways and sediments.
- Continue to monitor swimming beaches as well as conduct shellfish and fish advisory programs to reduce human exposure to health hazards.
Introduction: E. Eric Knudsen1
Overarching, Large-Scale Protection and Restoration Strategies: John Lombard2
Strategies for Watersheds and Tributaries: Richard R. Horner3
Strategies for Marine and Estuarine Habitats: E. Eric Knudsen1
Strategies for Fisheries and Wildlife : Cleveland Steward4
Evaluation of Protection and Restoration Effectiveness: E. Eric Knudsen1
2Lombard Consulting LLC and University of Washington
3Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Landscape Architecture, University of Washington
4Steward and Associates
In its broadest sense pollution is often thought of as the introduction of unwanted or undesirable substances or conditions into the natural environment. Virtually all pollution types described in this section are unintended consequences of the daily activities of humans – driving cars, heating homes, growing food, building shelter, generating waste, manufacturing goods and so on. A Driver-Pressure-State-Impacts-Response (DPSIR) conceptual model is used here to help organize the complex information that describes these human activities and the pressures they create on the ecosystem (i.e. “Threats”). In addition it can provide context for discussing pollution-harm in the ecosystem and to humans, and the range of possible strategies we might employ to mitigate the threat (Figure 4).
Tim Essington1, Terrie Klinger2, Tish Conway-Cranos1,2, Joe Buchanan3, Andy James4, Jessi Kershner1, Ilon Logan2, and Jim West3
With funding from the EPA (EPA Interagency Agreement DW-13-923276-01), scientists at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of Washington used a field and quantitative modeling ‘source-transport-fate’ assessment approach to classify the vulnerability of shellfish growing areas to closures caused by watershed and marine-derived pathogens. Based on the historical prevalence of nutrient pollution, shellfish closures, and phytoplankton blooms in commercial and recreational shellfish growing area, the project focused on three nearshore sites--the Hamma Hamma (WRIA 16), Dosewallips (WRIA 16) and Samish (WRIA 3).
Your daily coffee habit may someday help identify sources of bacterial pollution in Puget Sound. Researchers at the Puget Sound Institute (PSI) are developing a new tool for targeting leaky septic tanks that may have broader implications for studies of emerging contaminants.
The Puget Sound Partnership is charged with preparing a State of the Sound report every two years to inform the legislature and the public on the status of restoration efforts in Puget Sound.
An independent review conducted by the Puget Sound Institute is featured in findings by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology that there is currently “no compelling evidence” that humans are the cause for recent trends in declines in dissolved oxygen in Hood Canal.
Pollution of the rivers, creeks, bays, and open waters of Puget Sound comes from a variety of sources and travels along many pathways. Spilled oil products and fuel, deposition of air pollutants, legacy toxic pollutants, disease-bearing and illness-causing organisms from failing and poorly maintained on-site sewage treatment systems, fertilizers, erosion, and the runoff from roads and parking lots all find their way into the waters of Puget Sound, where they harm fish and wildlife and create direct health risks to people. Polluted waters reduce ecosystem services – shellfish closures, beach closures, impacts to recreation, impairments to sources of drinking water, loss of cultural resources, consumption warnings for fish, and low oxygen conditions that kill marine species. Increasing numbers of people, cars, and pavement mean more pollutants enter our waterways in higher concentrations, and at a faster rate. Pollutants also enter waterways directly through point source discharges from commercial and industrial sites.