With nearly 4,600 manmade outfalls (not including 93 combined sewer overflow outfalls), emptying directly into our waterways, we may as well be funneling motor oil into the mouths of our precious salmon. Too dramatic?
Well, beyond my bleeding heart, new stormwater infrastructure just makes sense and is perhaps a bit overdue, for several reasons.
Over the last century, stormwater has increasingly carried more and more pollutants such as motor oil, construction sediments, and animal waste over roadways, across parking lots, through lawns treated with pesticides and any amount of other down and dirty routes towards the Sound causing:
- A dive in water quality
- Loss of habitat
- Polluted public spaces such as beaches and waterfronts
- Rising deaths in wildlife (shellfish, salmon, sole, etc.)
- Rising sickness in wildlife
- Soil erosion
- Flooding and property damage
Several organizations, such as People for Puget Sound, the Puget Sound Partnership, the University of Washington, Environment Canada, several Washington state tribes, and The Washington Environmental Council are all working at various levels in policy and action towards improving our infrastructure and implementing sustainable stormwater strategies like LID.
The key to improving the quality of stormwater and the management of dangerous sewer overflow lie in an abundance of civil works projects. New legislation, such as the Working for Clean Water bill (HB 3181/SB 6851) is proposing just that and is intended to fund projects all over the region to help people get back to work and to improve the quality of our waterways at the same time.
Investing in sustainable storm water infrastructure and low impact development now will improve the quality of our water, our wildlife habitats and the appearance of our cities and will help move Washington forward in our vision for a sustainable future.
Image 1: Polluted stormwater warning sign at Manchester Beach on Puget Sound (Photo by Ricardo Vargas)