Study finds pollutants pouring into Lake Washington


SEATTLE, WA 4/3/03- Every day, 130,000 cars and trucks cross Seattle's State Route 520 bridge. And every day, they leave behind a calling card of pollutants that wash directly into the lake.

As part of its effort to draw attention to the effects of stormwater runoff, the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance commissioned a study of that runoff and found it contained a witch's brew of pollutants, many of which are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge over Lake Washington has 350 storm drains, all of which pour directly into the lake.
The pollutants include metals such as zinc, copper, lead, mercury and smaller amounts of chromium, nickel, silver and cadmium.

The findings were disturbing to Paul Fredrickson, who was among the volunteers who took water samples from some of the bridge's 350 storm drains, all of which pour directly into the lake.

"It's just going to get dirtier and dirtier, you're going to have more fish kill, bird kill," Fredrickson said.

"The water just goes shooting down into the lake with all the pollution with it."

Resource Links
Puget Soundkeeper

In fact, stormwater runoff of the kind tested on SR 520 is now the leading source of pollution in Puget Sound.

Puget Soundkeeper Sue Joerger said the Alliance's study did not measure how much of the pollutants were running off, only which pollutants were present.

King County, in the meantime, has set up a monitoring station on the bridge as well to measure not just what kind of pollutants are washing into the lake, but how much.

But it's not just runoff from SR 520 that's a source of pollution.

"It applies to every street and road in Western Washington," said Joerger.

The toxins are in the vehicles: copper in the brake linings, zinc in the paint and coatings.

It comes in tiny amounts from each vehicle that passes and adds up.

In fact, the state's Department of Ecology has estimated that a third of the polluted water bodies in or draining into Puget Sound are the result of storm water runoff.

Once the Soundkeepers have focused attention on the problem, there is a bigger challenge ahead.

"The biggest challenge is how do you stop the source," Joerger said.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref.]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site