200 turn out for meeting on cleaner waterways
by JEFF CHEW
Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND, WA -- With threats to Hood Canal, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound mounting like waves on several fronts, the Puget Sound Partnership on Thursday night heard many voices recommend ways to save the western Sound's precious marine environment.
About 200 showed up at the Puget Sound Partnership's only North Olympic Peninsula forum in a series of six meetings, ``Save Puget Sound: A Call to Action.''
``We're looking hard at what we see as most critical under-addressed threats to Puget Sound,'' Brad Ack, co-director of Puget Sound Partnership and program monitor, addressing the attentive audience at Fort Worden State Park Commons.
The partnership is a new team of elected officials, business, tribal and environmental leaders appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
The partnership is headed by former federal Environmental Protection Agency administrator William Ruckelshaus, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Chairman Billy Frank Jr. and state Ecology Director Jay Manning.
The partnership is charged with creating a new and aggressive 15-year action plan to fix tainted bodies of salt water from Puget Sound to the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Ack said the governor has asked that the plan be completed by November.
The threats being addressed are stormwater runoff, toxic contamination, nutrients and pathogens, insufficient habitat protection and restoration, insufficient fresh-water quality, and declining fish and wildlife.
Ack said pollution was coming through sewage treatment plants, where fire retardants, pharmaceuticals and even caffeine is being discharged.
``Hood Canal is an unfortunate example of a water body with what's happening when you have too many nutrients,'' Ack said.
Large parts of the canal suffer from depleted oxygen caused by the influx of too much nitrogen into the watercourse from septic systems along the shore.
North of Sequim, pollution has closed shellfish beds in Clallam County's Dungeness Bay, cleanup of which is now under way.
Puget Sound Action Team is funding low-impact development demonstration projects to reduce runoff and pollution in Kitsap and Clallam counties.