Clean water

What does the amount of fish people eat have to do with whether big employers thrive in Washington state?

Fish consumption is at the heart of the state Department of Ecology's quest for compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, which aims to protect human health. Fish absorb toxins from polluted water. So when people eat it, their health might be at risk. That risk increases with more fish in their diet. 

Right now, the state Department of Ecology officially assumes that people eat only about one meal of fish per month—a standard that’s known to be outdated and insufficient to protect human health.

philsnyder / Flickr via compfight

Proposals to streamline permitting for development in and around state waters have some environmental groups worried. The groups are concerned the changes could weaken crucial protections for fish and their habitat. 

The law in question is the state’s Hydraulic Code, which dictates how permits are issued for any project that touches a waterway—things like docks, culverts, and bulkheads. The law’s main aim is to protect fish and their habitat.

A major environmental group, People for Puget Sound, has been shut down by its board because of finances. The organization is being absorbed by two other environmental groups.

People for Puget Sound was founded in 1991 by a charismatic woman named Kathy Fletcher.

The Associated Press

One year ago this month, 9-year-old Rachel Beckwith died in a car crash and inspired people around the world to donate more than a million dollars to a charity in her honor.

Her mom is in Ethiopia this week visiting the water wells her philanthropy paid for.

zenobia_joy Photo / Flickr

Good news for those who love local oysters and clams: the state Department of Health says there’s been a steady improvement in water quality for nearly a decade, leading to fewer closures of shellfish beds in Puget Sound.

The key measure is of fecal coliform bacteria, which lives in human and animal waste. Runoff from farms and leaky sewage systems carries the bacteria and contaminates shellfish beds. People who eat the polluted shellfish can get sick.

Igor Strupinskiy / PLU student

Students journalists covering "Our Thirsty Planet," a symposium about water put on by Pacific Lutheran University’s Wang Center for Global Education, have wrapped up their coverage on "Water For Thought," a Website created for KPLU's experiment in student-sourced journalism.

With videos and stories, the students review the impact of the symposium and new perspectives on water. Below are headlines and highlights:

Courtesy of Rick McKenney

The lack of clean drinking water and unsanitary living conditions widely affects communities stretching across the globe, and for Rick McKenney standing by idle while people die from water-related illnesses every day is not an option.

“In the States, water is there when you turn the faucet on and in a lot of places it isn’t,” said McKenney, founder of the Washington-based Water for Humans organization.

A 9-year-old girl’s selfless dream has raised more than $1.26 million dollars for clean water in Africa.

Rachel Beckwith, of Bellevue, died in a car crash in July. She had turned 9 in June and said her birthday wish was to raise $300 dollars for the cause.

Courtesy of charity : water

In honor of her 9th birthday, Rachel Beckwith asked friends and family to donate money to bring clean water to an African village. She was close to her goal when she died over the weekend.

Nearly 16,000 people have made donations to a clean water project in honor of a nine-year-old Washington state girl. By Wednesday afternoon, there were donations totaling more than $550,000 to "charity: water" in Rachel's honor.