Wellspring Conference at UW Tacoma looks at clean water technology October 24-25

The 2013 Wellspring Conference  will be held October 24-25 on the campus of the University of Washington Tacoma. This two-day conference will open an informed dialogue about the various issues facing clean water technology, will explore the impact of current regulations on business, and will develop solutions to propel further growth in this industry.  During six sessions on the first day, renowned speakers from across the country will discuss innovative stormwater control and treatment strategies.  On the second day, participants will join local designers and engineers in a guided tour of three Tacoma locations that are successfully managing clean water technology.

Learn more about the 2013 Wellspring Conference’s agenda, speakers, and relive the 2012 Wellspring event online at www.wellspringtacoma.com. Early bird registration is open until Tuesday, Oct. 1st.

Follow this link to REGISTER NOW.


New geospatial and monitoring features on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound

PSI’s Encyclopedia of Puget Sound has a number of new features on its Maps/GIS page. We have improved access to the maps and data from our collaboration with NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration. Nigel Heinsius at UW Creative Communications created a new interface that allows users to view GIS metadata without leaving the Encyclopedia website, and there are also many new map layers.  Continue reading


Search remains open for WWU’s Director of Shannon Point Marine Center position

From Western Washington University:

“Western Washington University invites applications and nominations for Director of Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC). The Director reports to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and is responsible for providing academic and administrative leadership for all programs and facilities within SPMC and for its outreach efforts.”

Read more at the Shannon Point Marine Center website. 


Puget Sound floodplains workshop scheduled for October 2

The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with local governments, and state and federal agencies is planning a “Floodplains by Design” workshop for Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at the Edmonds Conference Center from 9:00 to 3:00.  Those involved in floodplains management in the region are invited to attend. The partnership extends from a new allocation of $33 million in funding from the Washington State legislature “to advance 9 important floodplain projects in Puget Sound.”

Read more at The Nature Conservancy’s website.


PSI convenes forage fish study panel at Friday Harbor

As go forage fish, so may go the health of Puget Sound. That’s the conclusion of scientists who say small schooling fish like Pacific herring, surf smelt and Pacific sand lance play a big role in the marine food web.

Pacific Herring. Photo by Mary Whalen, USGS

Pacific Herring. Photo by Mary Whalen, USGS

Oily and full of calories, these fish are an important source of food for familiar predators like salmon, sea birds and marine mammals.  But the region’s forage fish may be vulnerable on a variety of fronts, according to an expert panel of scientists who met at Friday Harbor Labs for a five-day workshop last month.

Continue reading


Biedenweg leads Hood Canal human wellbeing indicators workshops

Last month, PSI’s lead social scientist Kelly Biedenweg and the Hood Canal Human Wellbeing indicator development team conducted three regional workshops to refine and rate indicators linking human well being to the health of Hood Canal’s natural resources.

A "medicine wheel" graphic that will be used to showcase HWB indicators; copyright Biedenweg et al.

A “medicine wheel” graphic that will be used to showcase HWB indicators. Image copyright Biedenweg et al.

The 32 participants included representatives from county, public health and economic development departments, local businesses, tribes, and the area naval base. The workshops looked at 100 potential indicators that had been narrowed from an initial list of 1400 social indicators that are currently used in the Puget Sound region.  Participants ranked, reworded, and added indicators, resulting in 15 that were highly rated across all three workshops and 42 that were highly rated by participants in least two workshops.

The final lists will be presented to the Hood Canal Coordinating Council for consideration in their Integrated Watershed Plan.  As a result, the indicators would be monitored regularly to report on the state of resident’s well being as related to natural resources.

Download a pdf with background information about the workshops.


Sea level rise could release toxics into Puget Sound

The environmental effects of sea level rise due to climate change are just starting to become clear. So far, much of the conversation has focused on population displacement and changes to natural features and processes.

CAPRI study sites as represented on NOAA's Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA).

CAPRI study sites as represented on NOAA’s Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA).

Now there is another front. NOAA’s Climate Assessment and Proactive Response Initiative (CAPRI) has been identifying sites along the shores of Puget Sound that may release toxic pollution if covered by rising waters. Flooding and storm surge could leach existing toxics from contaminated sediments, or overcome chemical and oil storage facilities. In this sense, sea level rise is the equivalent of a toxic spill in slow motion. It may take fifty or a hundred years for this “spill” to occur, but the potential impacts are huge.

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An idea whose time has come (25 years later)

We recently came across this editorial from Seattle Times writer John Hamer. The text still seems fresh, like it could have been written just a few years ago. The issues that prompted it remain pressing, but the date — January of 1985 — shows that it can take a while for words to resonate.

Photograph of a 1985 Seattle Times editorial calling for the creation of a Puget Sound Institute "to serve as a focal point for research."

Photograph of a 1985 Seattle Times editorial calling for the creation of a Puget Sound Institute “to serve as a focal point for research.”

“Nearly every issue involving the Sound — secondary sewage treatment, storm-sewer overflow, urban runoff, dredge dumping, toxic chemicals, dead whales, fish tumors, closed shellfish beds, red tide — is plagued by uncertainty and disagreement. That makes swift, sweeping action difficult and probably unwise.

But one idea surfaced recently that almost everyone concerned about the Sound may be able to agree on: creation of a Puget Sound Institute at the University of Washington to serve as a focal point for research.”

We couldn’t agree more. It only took 25 years, but looks like there really was something to that Puget Sound Institute idea.

We would like to thank long-time Puget Sound scientist Don Malins for sharing this news clipping with us.