White House announces blueprint for agency cooperation in Puget Sound

White House CEQ managing Director Christy Goldfuss speaking at a press conference in Seattle today.

White House CEQ managing director Christy Goldfuss speaking at a press conference in Seattle today. Photo by Jeff Rice.

The Obama administration today approved the establishment of a new federal task force to prioritize agency actions for Puget Sound recovery.

The announcement came from Christy Goldfuss, the managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“We understand we have a critical role to play here in Puget Sound,” said Goldfuss, speaking at a press conference in Seattle. The new task force will serve as a blueprint for increased federal cooperation and is part of a memorandum of understanding signed today by the White House and nine federal agencies.

Goldfuss was joined at the conference by Washington governor Jay Inslee, congressmen Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman, Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon and several state and federal administrators.

Also announced was a recommendation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to commit $452 million dollars to the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project. The money will support three estuary recovery projects, including the Duckabush River Estuary project, the Nooksack River Delta restoration and the North Fork Skagit River Delta project.

Final funding for the estuary projects must still be approved by congress, but Governor Inslee was optimistic that the funds would be forthcoming. “Once you have laid the keel of the ship, the ship tends to get built,” he said.

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Puget Sound Day on the Hill 2016

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U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer introduced new stormwater legislation today.

Local agencies and stakeholders—including PSI— were in D.C. today to advocate for Puget Sound. Follow some of the action on social media, including Twitter posts at #saveoursound and #saveamericassound. Among the day’s highlights was a new stormwater bill introduced by Representative Derek Kilmer, who announced the legislation on Facebook.

Read the full text of H.R.4648 – Green Stormwater Infrastructure Investment Act.

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In the news: UWT talk aims to root methanol debate in science

TacomaNewsTribuneLogoThe News Tribune reported on an upcoming discussion series on a proposed methanol plant in Tacoma. The series is sponsored in part by our parent group the Center for Urban Waters at the University of Washington.

Columnist Matt Driscoll writes:
  • A four-part series on Tacoma’s proposed methanol plant starts Thursday at UWT
  • Joel Baker, the science director at the Center for Urban Waters, hopes to focus on the facts
  • Whether Tacomans will be receptive remains to be seen

Read more about the discussion series.

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In the news: Radiolab event will feature PSI’s water detectives

TacomaNewsTribuneLogoThere is a nice story in The News Tribune today on the upcoming Radiolab event in Tacoma. The January 22nd show at the Pantages Theater will focus on Northwest water issues and features a panel of environmental leaders, including PSI Director Joel Baker. The paper calls Joel and his lab “the ‘CSI’ of water science” and highlights some of their research into the high prevalence of household chemicals in local waterways.

“What we find in the water is by and large what you find in your house, from refrigerators to medicine cabinets,” Baker told the paper. The article describes how Baker and his group at the Center for Urban Waters are finding everything from artificial sweeteners to long-banned substances like DDT in nearby Puget Sound. Known as emerging contaminants, these substances often escape filtration systems and can be found in levels that, although tiny—sometimes in the parts per billion or even trillion—can still be potentially harmful.

Baker will be one of several panelists interviewed onstage by Radiolab co-host Robert Krulwich. Other panelists include Ryan Mello of the Pierce Conservation District, Puget Sound Partnership’s Sheida Sahandy, and Jennifer Chang of the Puyallup Watershed Initiative. The event will focus on local water issues and will also go behind the scenes of the popular Radiolab podcast and radio series.
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‘Inside Radiolab’ will interview PSI Director and other Puget Sound area panelists

1280px-WNYC_Radiolab_logo.svgOur Director Joel Baker is part of a panel of four environmental leaders in Puget Sound who will be interviewed onstage at the Inside Radiolab show next week in Tacoma. Radiolab’s Robert Krulwich will host the January 22nd event at the Pantages Theater where he will interview panelists about Northwest water issues.

In addition to Baker, other panelists include Jennifer Chang of the Puyallup Watershed Initiative, Ryan Mello, Executive Director of Pierce Conservation District and Sheida Sahandy, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership.

Radiolab’s quirky take on science has made it one of the Internet’s most popular podcasts, with more than 4 million downloads. It is also broadcast on over 450 public radio stations around the country. The live theater presentation will go behind the scenes of the show, with Krulwich talking about how he and his co-host Jad Abumrad create some of radio’s most compelling science journalism. The show begins at 7:30.

Read more about the event.

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Ocean Modeling Forum to hold Pacific Herring Summit June 8-10

An albatross catches a herring.Langara Fishing Adventures

An albatross catches a herring.Langara Fishing Adventures

Puget Sound Institute lead ecologist Tessa Francis is co-chair of an upcoming summit to examine the human dimensions of Pacific herring fisheries in the Salish Sea. The forum brings together “social and natural scientists, tribes and First Nations, and federal and state managers” to identify new approaches to ecosystem-based management, including the use of traditional ecologic knowledge and social networks.

The summit will be held from June 8-10 in British Columbia.  Read more at the Ocean Modeling Forum website. 

Related article (UW Today): Ocean Modeling Forum to bring human element to herring fishery, others

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Airport offers a glimpse at tightening stormwater regulations

Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from Sea-Tac Airport with Mt Rainier and Central Terminal in background. Photo: Port of Seattle by Don Wilson

Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from Sea-Tac Airport with Mt Rainier and Central Terminal in background. Photo: Port of Seattle by Don Wilson

How does one of the West’s busiest airports deal with extreme stormwater, and what does that mean for water quality standards in the rest of the state?

Read the latest article from Salish Sea Currents in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. 

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Puget Sound stormwater fixes could cost billions

Raindrops on a cafe window.  Photo: Jim Culp (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimculp/7140363701

Raindrops on a cafe window. Photo: Jim Culp (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimculp/7140363701

Pollution from stormwater has been called one of the greatest threats to Puget Sound. How much will it cost to hold back the rain? A new EPA-funded study says the price could reach billions per year, a figure that dwarfs current state and federal allocations.

Read the article in Salish Sea Currents.

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Nature inspires new approach to flood control

Aerial photo of Hansen Creek restoration site in Skagit County, WA. October 15, 2010. Photo: Kari Neumeyer/NWIFC

Aerial photo of Hansen Creek restoration site in Skagit County, WA. October 15, 2010. Photo: Kari Neumeyer/NWIFC

Every year, winter rains bring the threat of millions of dollars in property damage, or even the loss of life, from floods. Rivers have historically been channeled and tamed to protect towns and farms in low-lying floodplains, but research shows that this approach may actually be making flooding worse while at the same time threatening Puget Sound’s salmon. At Hansen Creek in the Skagit Valley, scientists say nature is the best engineer. Read Eric Wagner’s story in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound’s Salish Sea Currents series. 

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Brighter future for salmon at downtown seawall

Juvenile salmon at the Seattle Aquarium. Photo: kamikaze.spoon https://www.flickr.com/photos/kamikazespoon/264239056

Juvenile salmon at the Seattle Aquarium. Photo: kamikaze.spoon https://www.flickr.com/photos/kamikazespoon/264239056

The decaying seawall along Seattle’s waterfront is providing scientists with an opportunity to improve long-lost habitat for migrating salmon. It could also show the way for habitat enhancements to crumbling infrastructure worldwide. One University of Washington researcher describes the project.

Read more about the Seattle seawall in Salish Sea Currents.

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Forum looks at risks to Cherry Point

Announcement reprinted from Resources for Sustainable Communities

Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Forum: A Report to the Community

Saturday, October 25th
9:30am – 3:00 0pm
Bellingham Technical College (map)
Building G, Room 102A/103B

Attend this Forum to learn about the risks posed to the Salish Sea by projected increases in vessel and rail transportation, and learn about Cherry Point herring and their role in the ecosystem. Sessions include experts speaking on Vessel and Railway Risk Assessment, Cherry Point as an Aquatic Reserve, and Forage Fish and Cherry Point herring. The forum is sponsored by the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee. Learn more about the committee here.

PSI’s Tessa Francis will deliver the talk on Cherry Point’s herring population. Click here to read about the full group of presenters. View information about other talks and forums in the series. 
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