Summer is coming! This month’s issue of Water Watch features information on our upcoming Celebrate Water event, an article on our letter to Governor Inslee about restoring higher flow requirements on the Spokane River, a “Love Letter to a River” by CELP member Pat Sumption, and an introduction to CELP’s newest board member, Jill F. Johnson.
Last spring, CELP, along with other groups working to protect Puget Sound, wrote to Department of Ecology’s Director Maia Bellon urging her to propose a petition to the United States Environmental Protection Agency to establish a No Discharge Zone (NDZ) for all of Puget Sound, including the Straits.
Wonderful news: Director Bellon has done just that!
What is a No Discharge Zone?
A NDZ is a body of water where discharging sewage from boats, whether treated or not, is prohibited. Under current law, treated sewage may be discharged anywhere in Puget Sound, and untreated sewage may be discharged as long as the boat is more than three miles from shore.
EPA Region 10, where Washington is located, is the only region without an NDZ. Yet, there are more than 80 NDZs nationwide. Puget Sound is a state and national treasure-but it is imperiled. The evidence is overwhelming: beach closures, contaminated shellfish, dead zones in Hood Canal, the list goes on. As Billy Frank, Chairman of the NW Indian Fisheries Commission, has said, and said often, healthy salmon migrate out of the Nisqually River only to become sick as they move through lower Puget Sound to the ocean.
Establishing a NDZ is a key strategy in the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda. We can make that strategy become a reality by submitting comments supporting a NDZ. Here’s how to do that: