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Anusha Narayanan,
Environment Washington

Puget Sound Haunted by Stormwater Runoff, Toxic Dumping

For Immediate Release

Seattle, Washington – Today on the shores of Puget Sound, Environment Washington held an event to release “Ten Scary Facts About Puget Sound,” a new factsheet which compiles 10 of the most frightening realities about pollution in the area's most iconic waterway. The group was joined by Pete Knutson, owner of Loki Fish Company and Pete Mills from the office of Congressman McDermott.

“For more than a decade, loopholes in the Clean Water Act have allowed Puget Sound to become a witch’s brew of pollutants,” said Anusha Narayanan, Field Associate with Environment Washington. “President Obama has the power to make fishing and swimming in Puget Sound a lot less scary. Today, we are urging the Obama administration to ensure that Puget Sound is protected now and for future generations.”

The Halloween-themed event comes on the heels of the EPA’s announcement to move forward with a rulemaking to restore Clean Water Act protections to streams and wetlands across the country. The rule could close loopholes that leave nearly 54% of Washington’s streams and the drinking water for more than 2,002,833 million Washingtonians at risk of unchecked pollution.

"Looking at the beauty of the Puget Sound, it's easy to be fooled into thinking the health of our water is as picturesque. Unfortunately, that's not the case. The problem is growing, but Environment Washington, along with other community stakeholders, are fighting back. We need to use every tool in our tool belt and increase our collaboration on every level. The health of the Puget Sound and the future of our ecosystem are at stake," Congressman McDermott said. 

The most terrifying facts revealed today include:

  • On an average day, an estimated 140,000 lbs of toxic chemicals ranging from petroleum to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) enter Puget Sound.
  • Washington State is the nation’s leading commercial producer of oysters, clams and mussels and brings in over $100 million in sales annually.  Since 1980, over 30% of Puget’s Sounds shellfish-growing area has closed due to polluted water that leads to contaminated shellfish.
  • In 2008, there were 549 streams and rivers that carried poor water quality from storm water and toxins that were tributaries to Puget Sound. 

What’s even scarier is what’s at stake: For people in Washington, Puget Sound is a beloved part of Washington and has already been threatened by toxic contamination and pollution. The Puget Sound region is home to more than 1.3 million people. It’s a recreational hub and home to endangered species like salmon and orca whales. 

“The only way we can restore Puget Sound salmon populations on a long-term basis is by recovering salmon habitat. That cannot be done unless our watersheds receive the full protection of the Clean Water Act,” said Pete Knutson, founder of Loki Fishing Company.

The EPA is taking public comments now, and will hold a public meeting in mid-December to gather information on the science connecting our smaller streams and wetlands to larger bodies of water. 

 “Environment Washington thanks members of Congress like Congressman McDermott for standing up for clean water,” Narayanan said. “Support in Congress is critical to preventing further efforts to weaken Clean Water Act protections and helping the Obama administration restore protections to waterways that feed into Puget Sound.” 

“It’s time to give Puget Sound the Halloween treat it deserves – protection from polluters,” said Narayanan. "We thank the EPA for taking the first step forward to protect our waters. The Obama administration should finish the job and ensure that Puget Sound and all our waterways will be less scary for future Halloweens."

Read the full report here.

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Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. For more information, visit www.environmentwashington.org