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Our Water Ways

Puget Sound Institute senior writer Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related. As the very first environmental reporter for the Kitsap Sun, he has been a respected voice in the region for more than 25 years. He has been covering science-related stories for the Puget Sound Institute since 2015.


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Voluntary removal of BPA from food cans leaves state regulators with a key decision (6/10/2021) - As Washington state regulators contemplate a ban on the chemical BPA from food and drink cans, a manufacturers organization insists that BPA has already been removed voluntarily from nearly all food cans. Washington Department of Ecology is engaged in Phase 3 of the Safer Products for Washington program, which is evaluating five groups of chemicals …
Mercer Island student honored in national art contest for her painting of Arctic char (5/28/2021) - A 16-year-old Mercer Island High School artist, Jingyi “Alana” Yang, received multiple awards this month in the annual Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest, sponsored by the conservation group Wildlife Forever. Her painting showed an Arctic char in its natural cold-water surroundings. Alana said she was inspired to paint the colorful fish during a family …
As in a pandemic, the battle against invasive species may well depend on early actions (5/24/2021) - As Americans, we have become all too familiar with the spread of a deadly virus and the terrible consequences of a delayed response to an outbreak. As a result of our experience, I’m wondering if some of us might have a more visceral sense about the need to control invasive species. I’m not saying that …
A mile of shellfish beach near Hoodsport has been declared safe for harvesting (5/12/2021) - Efforts to clean up the waters near Hoodsport in southern Hood Canal are paying off with increased shellfish-harvesting opportunities for the Skokomish Tribe, private property owners and recreational harvesters. The final step in the cleanup effort involved tracking down sources of pollution, including eight failing septic systems, which then were either repaired or replaced. After …
Rep. Derek Kilmer expresses optimism about future funding for Puget Sound recovery (4/28/2021) - Federal support for Puget Sound recovery is on the rise, and there is growing hope that the Sound’s ecological problems will receive increased consideration and funding, according to U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor. “With a (Democratic) majority in the House and the new Senate majority, and the White House, I think that we are …
State agencies will focus on improving environmental justice under new law (4/23/2021) - A person’s health should not be determined by their income, race or ethnic background nor by the neighborhood in which they live, according to basic principles of environmental justice. Yet studies have shown that these demographic groups tend to suffer from a disproportionate share of environmental problems — from toxic waste to air pollution to …
Environmental justice on the move: a few personal observations about change (4/16/2021) - I recently completed a much-involved writing project focused on environmental justice. It has been one of the most challenging, yet for me enlightening, efforts in my 45 years of covering the environment. My initial idea was to report on a plan by the Washington Department of Ecology to rewrite the regulations for the Model Toxics …
Washington’s Water Quality Assessment offers insights into status of pollution (4/9/2021) - More than 2,000 segments of streams, lakes and marine waters have been added to the state’s massive list of water-quality data, allowing more Washington residents to take stock of pollution levels near their homes. The latest Water Quality Assessment for Washington waters, released for public review this week, covers 9,279 miles of streams, 434 lakes …
Invasive mussel triggers widespread talks, increased coordination with pet stores (3/29/2021) - Baby zebra mussels, no bigger than a grain of rice, provoked an emergency response across the country in early March, and now state and federal officials are contemplating changes to protect the Northwest from an invasive species that some people have unknowingly invited into their fish tanks. Nothing official has been proposed, but experts are …
Low-interest loans could help shoreline property owners finance improvements (3/9/2021) - As ongoing research confirms the importance of shoreline habitat throughout Puget Sound, experts are looking for new ways to help shoreline property owners pay for bulkhead removals. One emerging idea, which could be established as a formal initiative within a year, consists of a special shoreline loan program that could provide low-interest loans to residential …