Marine Pollution

 

Pollution in our local lakes, streams, rivers and Puget Sound affects everyone.  All water runs downhill through the watershed as surface water or ground water to Puget Sound.  So anything in that water can reach and effect Puget Sound.


Pollution harms fish, shellfish and other forms of life, either killing them directly, poisoning their food or, for some species of recreational or commercial importance, making them unfit to eat.  Pollution of our marine waters impacts shellfish aquaculture (with a value of around $75,000,000) as well as recreational and commercial fisheries with a value of many millions of dollars.


Pollution can come from untreated or poorly treated human waste, such as leaking and broken septic systems and inadequate waste water treatment plants.  Untreated agriculture and pet waste are another major problem.  Stormwater runoff from our streets, roofs and lawns also adds both organic material to the water as well as chemicals such as copper from automobile brakes, nitrogen and phosphorus from lawn fertilizer and oil from leaking trucks and cars.  Catastrophic loss of oil and gas from vessels, cars and trucks can be especially damaging to both marine and freshwater ecosystems.


As the human and animal population has grown around Puget Sound since the early 19th century, methods of waste disposal have strained to keep up.  We must continue to improve and expand our waste water and storm water treatment systems to reduce the levels of bacteria and viruses and harmful chemicals produced by our high standard of living reaching our local streams, rivers and Puget Sound.



Listen to the thoughts and ideas from students at McKenney Elementary School in Olympia, Washington about local pollution issues.