Department of Ecology

Crowdsourcing Science
4:32 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Calling Citizen Photographers: Help Researchers Visualize Future Sea Level Rise

Jamie Mooney with Washington Sea Grant demonstrates "citizen science" at Myrtle Edwards Park in Seattle.
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU

Researchers want you to grab the camera, head to the beach and capture this weekend's king tide.

The highest tides of the year are taking place, and the state is asking citizens to help document potential impacts of rising sea levels. 

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Regulating Pollution
4:54 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Clean Water Suit Alleges State's Fish Consumption Rate Outdated

How much fish is safe to eat? That’s the key question in a federal lawsuit filed today

The plaintiffs are trying to force stricter limits on pollution in local waters. A coalition of groups including clean water advocates, tribes, and the commercial fishing industry have filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Northwest coal
5:02 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Hearings Begin in Environmental Review of Longview Coal Terminal

A coal train along the Columbia River, near Vancouver, WA
Erin Hennessey photo KPLU News

Scoping hearings begin tomorrow on a proposed coal export terminal in Longview, near the Columbia River.  It’s one of two Washington terminals that would ship coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming to Asia.

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Northwest coal
12:40 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

State Promising Extensive Review for Proposed Coal Exports

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Environmentalists are applauding the state Department of Ecology, which announced it will conduct an extensive review of the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham. 

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Water pollution
8:02 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

EPA Put on Notice over Wash. State's Fish Consumption Rate

How much fish is safe to eat? Only one small filet per month under Washington's current water quality standard - a fraction of what's shown in this picture of a traditional NW meal of wild salmon on cedar planks.
woodleywonderworks photo Flickr

The official estimate of how much fish people eat dictates the levels of pollution that are allowed, and a statewide coalition of clean water advocates says an accurate standard is long overdue.

Waterkeepers Washington is threatening to sue the federal government over lack of enforcement.

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Environment
5:25 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

House Dems remove fish-consumption study from budget

jpellgen Flickr

Washington state House Democrats removed funds for a fish-consumption study from the final budget. That went against the wishes of one of the state's biggest business interests, Boeing.

The state Department of Ecology currently assumes that people in Washington eat about one meal of fish a month. But the state acknowledges the standard is out of date; many people eat a lot more fish than that.

Tribes and environmental groups have been urging the state to update its standard and require stricter regulation of water pollution. But that has been met with resistance from businesses, including Boeing.

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Environment
5:01 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Sediment health declining in central Puget Sound

Environmental specialist and lead taxonomist Kathy Welch examines a sediment sample pulled from Elliott Bay. A new study of the sediments shows a dramatic decline in the health of benthic invertibrates over a ten-year period, despite lower toxin levels.
Bellamy Pailthorp photo KPLU News

Scientists examining the health of Puget Sound have uncovered a new mystery involving the very bottom of the food chain.

A new study from the state Department of Ecology shows toxins in sediments have declined over the past decade. But it also found declining health of the creatures that live in the sediment. 

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toxins in fish
1:41 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

How much fish is healthy? Wash. tribes push for updated standard

jpellgen Flickr

How much fish should you eat? The state Department of Health recommends two meals of fish a week. But the Department of Ecology assumes people eat far less, about the equivalent of one meal per month.

That’s because it uses those assumptions to calculate how much water pollution can be legally allowed in Washington—pollution that ends up in the fish we eat.

Efforts to change that standard have stalled, and Washington's tribes, fed up, are calling on federal authorities to intervene.

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wastewater settlement
1:35 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Seattle, King County to spend $1.5 billion on wastewater upgrades

Concrete culvert with street sewer water draining from an embankment into Seattle's Carkeek Park.
Wonderlane photo Flickr

The city of Seattle and King County will spend $1.46 billion on upgrades to public sewer systems aimed at reducing the amount of polluted water entering the Puget Sound and other waterways, according to a federal settlement filed under the Clean Water Act. 

Under the agreement, the city and county will also pay $750,000 in fines for dumping raw sewage into the Sound and several lakes. 

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Superfund cleanup
12:09 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Lower Duwamish Waterway plan open for public comment

You can see dredging equipment used in the earliest work on superfund cleanup of "hotspots" at Seattle's Duwamish Waterway Park, in Southpark.
Bellamy Pailthorp Photo KPLU News

Seattle’s Duwamish River was once a meandering estuary in the heart of the city. A century ago, it was transformed into an industrial waterway and used as a dumping ground for decades.

Now it’s a Superfund site – and the Environmental Protection Agency has released a plan to clean it up.

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Environment
3:02 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Sinking incident points to state’s struggle with derelict vessels

Two derelict vessels, the Helena Star and the Golden West, began sinking early Thursday in the Hylebos waterway near Tacoma. State and federal agencies must try to contain any leaking oil or other pollutants. The vessels can also pose navigation hazards.
US Coast Guard photo courtesy Washington Dept of Ecology

Two derelict vessels are sinking in a bankrupt marina near Tacoma. Fire fighters have circled them with oil booms to contain any pollutants. 

The incident is the latest in a series of stories that show the link between ecological health and the economy.

The two boats in question were chained together when one of them, the Helena Star, began to sink. The other, the Golden West, was listing badly when coast guard and firefighters got to the scene.

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Water Quality
4:09 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Washington beaches mostly safe, but 3 get failing grades

Larrabee State Park, near Bellingham, gets an F in Heal the Bay's report Card. Dangerous levels of bacteria that can make people sick have been showing up since 2007.
Courtesy Washington BEACH program Wa State dept of ecology

Thinking of heading for the beach this weekend?  You’re mostly safe.

A California non-profit has just issued its 3rd annual end-of-summer report card on water quality, including beaches in Washington and Oregon. It shows almost all As and Bs in the northwest…but also 3 “F” grades.

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Environment
10:20 am
Wed April 4, 2012

Climate change could cost Wash. $10 billion a year; state crafting response

A visualization of Washington's future water supply, based on assumptions about population growth and climate change.
courtesy Wa Dept of Ecology

Climate change is happening, and not preparing for it could cost the state $10 billion a year by 2020.

That’s according to the Department of Ecology, which has just released a response strategy to changing climate conditions.

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Environmental Law
12:44 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Tougher rules for oil spill prevention - hearings underway

On Oct. 13, 2004, about 7,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a ConocoPhillips oil tanker. The slick spread quickly and covered much of Colvos and Dalco Passage and Quartermaster Harbor in Puget Sound.
Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

Washington State already has some of the highest oil spill readiness standards in the country – if not in the world.

An update to those regulations is raising that bar even higher.

The tightening is in response to the catastrophic BP oil spill nearly two years ago in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The new law places new requirements on oil companies operating in Puget Sound or on the Columbia River.

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Environment
4:33 am
Thu December 29, 2011

What's the best way to dispose of a Christmas tree?

Don't burn your tree outside! It's better to dissect it and re-use in the yard, if you can. Better yet, ecology experts say, don't buy one at all: rent instead.
CocteauBoy Flickr

Statewide, recycling for Washington State has reached the highest rates ever.  The biggest areas in which people are doing more are in reusing construction materials and composting food waste…and then there are those pesky Christmas trees.

Recycling rates have grown to 49% statewide – higher than ever. It’s an increase of 14% more than the prior year. 

But even though we’ve all become great at composting, many people still aren’t sure how to dispose of their Christmas trees.

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