PSI scientists are working to identify chemicals in stormwater

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This much we know: Stormwater is nasty stuff. The state of Washington has called it one of the leading threats to the Puget Sound ecosystem. It can kill salmon within hours and it contributes to all kinds of health problems for species ranging from orcas to humans. What we don’t know, however, is exactly what’s in it. Rain and snowmelt wash an untold number of toxic chemicals from our streets and other impervious surfaces directly into our waterways, but there is no such thing as typical stormwater. It simply includes […]

Detecting organic contaminants in highway runoff and fish tissue

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This much we know: Stormwater is nasty stuff. The state of Washington has called it one of the leading threats to the Puget Sound ecosystem — it can kill salmon within hours and it contributes to all kinds of health problems for species ranging from orcas to humans. What we don’t know is exactly what’s in it. Rain and snowmelt wash an untold number of toxics into our waterways, but there is no such thing as typical stormwater. Its chemical makeup varies from place to place and depends on local […]

Measuring health and happiness in Puget Sound: a case study

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The story of how PSI social scientist Kelly Biedenweg and her collaborators put together a list of human wellbeing indicators for Puget Sound is outlined in a new paper in the journal Ecology and Society. The paper is co-authored by Biedenweg with Kari Stiles of the Puget Sound Partnership and Haley Harguth of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council. It is written as a case study of the indicator selection process and examines how human wellbeing is connected to the health of the environment. Citation: Biedenweg, K., H. Harguth, and K. Stiles. 2017. […]

Identifying chemical suspects in stormwater

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Scientists know this much about stormwater: It can be extremely toxic. It can kill exposed fish such as coho salmon within hours. But figuring out exactly what is in stormwater has been a complex puzzle that has so far confounded scientists. Many of the chemical compounds in it remain unidentified. Is there such a thing as typical stormwater, or is it so variable that patterns can’t be detected? That has been the subject of research by Center for Urban Waters research scientist and PSI collaborator Ed Kolodziej, who will be presenting some […]

Herring talk May 15th at UWT

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PSI’s Tessa Francis will be presenting a lecture on Puget Sound’s Pacific herring as part of the University of Washington Tacoma Environmental Seminar series on May 15th. The seminar is open to the public and will be held from 12:30 P.M. to 1:30 P.M. on the UWT campus in the Science Building in room SCI309. The talk will look at why some local herring stocks are in decline and what might be done to protect Puget Sound’s herring in the future. View a poster for the talk.   

Where does Seattle coffee go after it’s poured down the drain?

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PSI’s Director Joel Baker was quoted in a story by KIRO News on how caffeine and other chemicals like Prozac find their way into Puget Sound. “Scientists like Dr. Baker say caffeine levels in our waters have not reached a crisis level,” KIRO reports, “but the studies point out why in the future, technology must be enhanced to remove it, along with more harmful chemicals humans ingest and flush, from making generational impacts on our environment.” Read the full article.

Study of eelgrass shows populations steady across Puget Sound

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Although eelgrass populations have declined in some parts of Puget Sound, overall numbers for the aquatic plant have remained steady ecosystem-wide, according to an analysis of 41 years of data from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The study, published in the Journal of Ecology, was co-authored by Puget Sound Institute lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa Francis and was aided by a team of University of Washington student assistants who sorted through more than 160,000 notebook entries to parse out survey findings. The data comes from long-time surveys of Pacific Herring, which also […]

New funding for Salish Sea herring research

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PSI’s Tessa Francis is co-leader of a joint US and Canadian team that has received funding to analyze threats to Pacific Herring in the Salish Sea. Funding of just over $89,000 was granted by the SeaDoc Society and will help the group develop a comprehensive Salish Sea herring conservation and management plan. Francis teams up with project co-leader Dayv Lowry of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Additional collaborators include USGS, NOAA, Oregon State University, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Lummi Tribe, the Cowichan Tribe, The Nature Conservancy, and Q’ul-lhanumutsun Aquatic […]

Jay Manning will take over for outgoing Leadership Council Chair Martha Kongsgaard

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Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council Chair Martha Kongsgaard has announced that she will be stepping down from her post this year. Jay Manning will take over as chair on December 7th. Kongsgaard has served on the council for nearly a decade and spent more than five years as its chair. During that time, she was a regular presence in Washington, D.C. where she advocated for increased federal funding to bring Puget Sound in parity with other major estuaries such as Chesapeake Bay. Under Kongsgaard’s leadership, the Puget Sound Partnership made significant strides in establishing a […]

A comparative study of human well-being indicators across three Puget Sound regions

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Puget Sound Institute social scientist Kelly Biedenweg has published a comparative study of three well-being indicators in the Puget Sound region. The article appears in the August issue of the journal Society & Natural Resources. Abstract: Simple frameworks that generalize the best metrics of human well- being related to the natural environment have rarely been empirically tested for their representativeness across diverse regions. This study tested the hypothesis that metrics of human well-being related to environmental change are context specific by identifying priority human well-being indicators in distinct regions. The research […]

PSI in the news: Identifying pharmaceuticals in Puget Sound salmon

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KUOW’s Bill Radke spoke with PSI director Joel Baker about a recent NOAA study identifying dozens of pharmaceuticals—from Prozac to Valium to bug spray—that are showing up in Puget Sound salmon. Listen to the interview.

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

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The 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 the full article. Read more about the discussion series.