The Edmonds City Council, by proclamation, recently declared the month of May “Puget Sound Starts Here” month. 750 other Cities, Counties, regulatory agencies, private businesses, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations made similar declarations. All of these entities are working to provide public education about what we can do to protect the water quality and habitat of Puget Sound for the benefit of all species that call the Salish Sea their home, and that includes us humans!
Although May is officially Puget Sound Starts Here Month this large coalition works throughout the year to provide a wide variety of information and action-oriented opportunities to the public. The goal is to encourage citizens of all ages to get involved and make a difference. I would encourage you to visit the Puget Sound Starts Here website at www.pugetsoundstartshere.org. This partnership has assembled a vast amount of peer-reviewed scientific information about our climate and how it is changing, the physical features of Puget Sound, the water quality issues we face, the loss of habitat that has occurred, the species that call Puget Sound home, and many other topics. The content includes items appropriate for every age and educational level and makes very specific recommendations about what we can all do to help.
Edmonds, of course, has a very direct and obvious connection to Puget Sound. As a seaside community it is in our DNA and on our logo. All of Edmonds drains quickly to Puget Sound each time it rains. This “stormwater” picks up a wide variety of contaminants as it traverses the streets, parking lots, roof tops, sidewalks, driveways, and other hard surfaces in the developed areas of our city. Along the way, stormwater picks up feces from our pets, as well as oil, brake fluid, brake dust, tire rubber from our cars and trucks, soaps and grime from car-washing rinse water, chemicals and fertilizers from our lawns and yards, and many other contaminants.
It then enters our system of drainage pipes, or one of our freshwater streams, and heads west to Puget Sound. In similar systems throughout a 12-county area this process is now the biggest source of toxic chemicals to our lakes, rivers, creeks, and to Puget Sound itself. What can you do to help? As an individual, or at a family level, here are some simple but important steps to protect Puget Sound:
– Keep your car well-maintained. Make sure to have it checked for leaks frequently and have them fixed promptly. Have your oil changed at a facility that properly handles used oil. Trying to do this at home can be a difficult and messy job. If you do choose to do it yourself clean up any spilled product and take the used oil to an approved recycling business.
– Do a little research regarding rain gardens and set a goal for building one at your own home, or work with others to build one at your apartment or condominium complex. For help getting started contact the Snohomish County Conservation District at 425-335-5634 or go to http://snohomishcd.org.
– Find places to plant trees on your lot or work with your homeowners association to find places to locate additional trees in your common areas. Trees are beneficial in many ways. They moderate temperature, absorb and capture CO2, and prevent erosion. From a stormwater standpoint the needles on a fir tree can hold as much as 40 percent of the water from a light rain shower without allowing run-off.
– Be very cautious when using fertilizer and other lawn or garden chemicals. Most of these are highly soluble in water. Over applying them or applying them at the wrong time can allow them to be washed away to Puget Sound in the next rain shower. These chemicals are toxic to aquatic life and add nutrients that can promote excessive growth of algae and other aquatic plants.
“Puget Sound Starts Here Month” would be a great time to make improvements like these to show how much you care about protecting this amazing body of water we all live next to. For more information on how you can help contact Patrick Johnson, City of Edmonds Stormwater Technician, at [email protected] or call him at 425-771-0220. Also, feel free to swing into City Hall, where our Green Room in the Development Services lobby can provide you with additional materials, resources, and even a few free items, to help you be a better steward for Puget Sound.
— By Phil Williams, Public Works Director