Puget Sound's Health 2002

This is the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team's third report on key indicators of Puget Sound's Health. We prepared the report in response to the Washington State Legislature's request to evaluate efforts to protect Puget Sound. The report includes updated information on the 17 indicators presented in 2000 as well as information on two new indicators.

Puget Sound's Health 2002 report cover page
Puget Sound's Health 2002 report cover page


Indicators are measures that can be tracked through time to assess the successes and shortcomings of our efforts to protect and restore Puget Sound. They help us to understand where we are making progress, where we need to redouble our efforts, and where new solutions might be needed. We hope that Puget Sound's Health helps you and others who live and work in the Puget Sound region to focus on the Sound as a patient in our care. The environmental indicators presented in this report are the vital signs that we use to measure the health of Puget Sound. Our combined efforts to protect and restore Puget Sound may be seen as treatments designed to fix problems and as advice about the lifestyle choices that will help ensure the continued health of the Puget Sound ecosystem. As you learn about the vital signs we are tracking, we hope you will seek opportunities to contribute to a healthier Puget Sound. (We offer some ideas on page 16.) We recognize difficulties and risks in presenting a small set of environmental indicators as measures of the performance of Puget Sound protection:

  • The environment is continually changing. It is often difficult to determine whether changes observed in environmental indicators reflect natural factors (such as varying ocean conditions) or relate to human actions.
  • Our actions and programs to protect and restore Puget Sound do not always have a simple relationship to environmental results. Several programs may act together to bring about the changes we observe in the environment. Actions taken today may not result in an environmental response for a number of years. And, the positive results of our actions and programs might be lost because of the increasing stresses from our region's rapidly growing human population.
  • Vital signs, such as the environmental indicators that we track and present in this document, offer a simplified view of a complex system. Selection of a limited number of indicators necessarily limits the breadth and diversity of information that is presented. Turning complex data into simple indicators can sacrifice some of the richness of the underlying information.

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About the Author: 
The Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team works with federal, state, tribal and local governments, citizens and businesses to develop and carry out two-year work plans that guide protection of water quality and biological resources.