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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Citizens now the leading cause of toxics in Puget Sound

Stormwater flowing into catch basin carries contaminants to our waterways. Photo: Ben McLeod (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Stormwater flowing into catch basin carries contaminants to our waterways. Photo: Ben McLeod (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The latest issue of Salish Sea Currents reports that some of the greatest dangers to Puget Sound come from our common, everyday activities. These pervasive sources of pollution are so woven into our lives that they are almost invisible to us, but it’s becoming impossible to ignore their effects.

Read the article in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.

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No salmon left behind: The importance of early growth and freshwater restoration

Nisqually Reserve Fish Sampling March 2012. Photo: Michael Grilliot, DNR (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Nisqually Reserve Fish Sampling March 2012. Photo: Michael Grilliot, DNR (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Traditionally, salmon restoration has focused heavily on spawning habitat in streams and rivers, but scientists say that may no longer be enough. New research presented at the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference suggests that conserving and increasing high-quality habitat for juvenile salmon could be just as vital. Read the article by Emily Davis in the Salish Sea Currents series. 

 

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Shedding new light on eelgrass recovery

Inside the Eelgrass beds. Photo: Eric Heupel (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/eclectic-echoes/7654885752 - See more at: http://www.eopugetsound.org/articles/shedding-new-light-eelgrass-recovery#sthash.BMcQrBpd.dpuf

Inside the Eelgrass beds. Photo: Eric Heupel (CC BY-NC 2.0)

One of the goals set by the state’s Puget Sound Action Agenda is to add 20 percent more eelgrass to the region by 2020. But three years into the effort, there’s been little or no progress, and growing perplexity. Studies show that some eelgrass beds are increasing while others are in decline. Scientists met at the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference to share new research and possible new directions for recovery efforts.

Read the article by Katie Harrington in the new Salish Sea Currents series. 

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New online series features Puget Sound science

SSECLogoSalish Sea Currents is a new online series featuring the latest science from the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. Join us as we report on some of the key issues driving Puget Sound recovery.

The magazine-style series is housed on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound and is developed in collaboration with the Puget Sound Partnership with funding from the EPA.

Eric Wagner kicks things off with a story on the region’s declining seabird populations. Close to a third of the birds in the Salish Sea are classified as species of concern, and some scientists believe this may hold clues to the overall health of the ecosystem. Later, in August, we’ll have reports on why so many of Puget Sound’s salmon are dying young, as well as a look at current efforts to restore the region’s eelgrass. Each month through December, we’ll bring you new stories, along with related media and interviews with leading scientists.

Read more.

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SSEC14 by the numbers

SalishSea_small_iconThe Salish Sea’s premier science conference concluded last month in Seattle, and judging strictly by the numbers, it was one of the most successful in conference history.

The 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, or #SSEC14 as it came to be known in various social media, featured several significant firsts. It was the largest in its history, with more than 1200 attendees. Overall, there were 450 science talks, 150 posters, eight discussion panels and numerous featured speakers, proving that the region’s scientists aren’t shy or standing idle.

It was also the first time the conference had its own mobile app, giving attendees the option of going paperless. The Puget Sound Institute provided the app with funding from the Puget Sound Partnership, and a survey by the SSEC (n=400) showed that nearly half of the respondents used it, strongly suggesting that future conferences will also go this route.

In fact, conference-goers turned out to be a fairly digitally savvy group. A separate poll by the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound (n=62) showed that more than 83% of all respondents rated the Web as their most important or second most important source for retrieving scientific information, rating it as either a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. Those numbers are likely skewed considering it was a web-based survey, but there was one surprising note. Despite their high reliance on the Web, survey participants didn’t think much of social media. Almost 80% of the respondents said they “don’t use” Twitter.

Other survey results from the SSEC:

  • Respondents were generally favorable in their opinion of the conference format, the mix of science and policy at the event, the relevance of content to ecosystem recovery and management (4 out of 5 average rating).
  • The aspect of the conference most commonly noted as “best” was the diversity of topics and presenters, followed by networking opportunities, learning opportunities, and the quality of presentations.
  • The aspect of the conference most commonly noted as “least favorite” was the structure of the lunchtime activities, followed by length of oral presentations (too short), and the amount of time for networking and discussion (not enough).
  • Survey demographics: 20% non-profit, 8% tribe/first nation, 14% local government, 14% state/provincial government, 14% federal government, 11% private sector, 24% academic. And according to registration figures, 12.5% of attendees were from Canada, 85.5% from USA, 0.3% from other countries and 1.6% came from parts unknown.

(Results of the SSEC survey are based upon a ~33% response rate out of a total of ~1200 conference participants.)

See you at SSEC16 in Vancouver.

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Gathering the stories of SSEC14

Now that the chairs and tables are stacked and the organizing committee has long since cued the music, the work of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference is just starting for us. Over the next year, the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound will be reporting some of the stories, highlights and important takeaways from the conference.

Even with 11 writers on the ground, we couldn’t see every presentation or poster, but that wasn’t our goal. The conference will prepare a complete proceeding of abstracts and summaries, but we will tell some of the stories. We’ll look beyond the spreadsheets and the graphs, beyond the darkened conference rooms and PowerPoint presentations. We’ll take you to the Sea of Glass and Protection Island. We’ll look at the Salish Sea’s “charismatic megaflora” and its mean little kelp crabs. We’ll fly over the waters of Puget Sound or listen to harbor porpoises, all the time providing the most relevant information about Puget Sound and Salish Sea restoration.

You might see this as the very first Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference magazine. We think it will be a must-read for anyone who attended the conference, and for those who simply want to know where the latest research is heading. These are your stories. Look for monthly articles from SSEC14 in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound starting this July.

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