For the first time in U.S. history, the consumption of bottled
water has now surpassed that of carbonated soft drinks, according
to the Beverage Marketing Corporation.
Bottled water consumption grew by 8.5 percent last year, while
soft drink consumption fell by 1.7 percent, following an ongoing
trend, according to the BMC’s Gary Hemphill, as quoted in Plastics
The statistics are based on volume consumed, not dollar value,
Hemphill said. “Which is really kind of remarkable when you
consider bottled water’s growth trajectory didn’t really start
until the early ‘90s.”
The shift is largely attributed to growing health concerns
related to drinking sugary soft drinks. But bottled water also is
displacing the consumption of juice, alcoholic beverages and even
tap water. See story by Hadley Malcolm in
Federal funding to restore Puget Sound and other large U.S.
estuaries would be slashed by more than 90 percent under a
preliminary budget proposal coming from President Trump’s
Funding for Puget Sound restoration would be cut by 93 percent,
from the current budget of $28 million to just $2 million,
according to figures cited by the
Portland Oregonian and apparently circulated by the National
Association of Clean Air Agencies. Here’s
The Great Lakes, which received a big boost in spending to $300
million in the current biennium, would be hammered down to $10
million. Chesapeake Bay, currently at $73 million, would be reduced
to $5 million.
Much of this money goes for habitat protection and restoration,
the kind of effort that seems to be kicked to the bottom of the
priority list, at least in these early budget figures. The new EPA
administrator, Scott Pruitt, appears to be focusing on upgrading
water infrastructure, cleaning up toxic sites and reducing air and
water pollution, although everything is cut deeply and details
Total returns of coho salmon to Puget Sound this year are
expected to be significantly higher than last year, and that should
help smooth negotiations between state and tribal salmon managers
working to establish this year’s fishing seasons.
But critically low runs of coho to the Skagit and Stillaguamish
rivers in Northern Puget Sound could limit fishing opportunities in
other areas, as managers try to reduce fishing pressure on coho
making their way back to those rivers.
In any case, both state and tribal managers say they are
confident that they can avoid the kind of deadlock over coho they
found themselves in last year, when a failure to reach agreement
delayed sport fishing seasons and threatened to cancel them
altogether. See reporter Tristan Baurick’s stories in the Kitsap
May 4 and
“We’re in a much better situation than we were last year,” Ryan
Lothrop, a salmon manager with Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife, told a large gathering of sport and commercial fishermen
yesterday in Olympia.
Robert Earl Woodard, an Alabama farmer and retired football
coach, has spent 40 years perfecting his technique for catching
bass by hand.
As you can see from the first video, his careful procedure
involves dangling some bait in the water and waiting for a fish to
strike. He then grasps the fish by inserting his thumb into the “V”
at the bottom of the mouth and waits for the fish to calm down.
The large mouth bass that Woodard caught in the video weighted
in at 16.03 pounds, just half a pound less than the Alabama
state record of 16.5 pounds set in 1987.
Looking back on the various comments that followed the death of
the killer whale named Granny, I realized that there were a couple
of thought-provoking tributes that I never shared with readers of
Granny, designated J-2, was believed to be more than 100 years
old, and she was the obvious leader for many of the Southern
Resident orcas that frequent Puget Sound. Granny went missing last
fall and was reported deceased at the end of the year by the Center
for Whale Research. See
Water Ways, Dec. 30.
Some tributes to Granny were written and posted soon after her
death notice, including one by Ken Balcomb of the Center
for Whale Research. I posted my thoughts along with some others in
Water Ways on Jan. 4.
An amusing video that shows a young family experiencing close-up
encounters with killer whales, a polar bear and several penguins
has been making the rounds on social media. The technology has been
described as a hologram by many people posting and reposting the
video, the first on this page.
Frankly, I was amazed at first, believing that people were
really up close and personal with a 3D image in a shopping mall.
The animals, which I assumed were projected for all to see,
appeared so real that it was no wonder that people in the video
were reaching out to touch them. Unfortunately, that’s not what we
are seeing, according to observers.
A European green crab invasion may be taking place in Puget
Sound, and Washington Sea Grant intends to enhance its Crab Team
this summer with more volunteers looking in more places than ever
Training is about to get underway, and anyone with an interest
in furthering science while being exposed to the wonders of nature
may participate. It’s not always good weather, but I’ve been
inspired by the camaraderie I’ve witnessed among dedicated
The work involves going out to one or more selected sites each
month from April into September with a team of two to four other
volunteers. It is helpful to have folks who can carry the crab
traps, plastic bins and other equipment. For details, check out the
Washington Sea Grant website.
Citing pollution problems in Puget Sound, an environmental group
is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to revoke Washington
state’s authority to enforce the federal Clean Water Act.
Environmental Advocates, based in Portland, says a review of
103 discharge permits issued by the Washington Department of
Ecology shows a failure to control nitrogen pollution. Excess
nitrogen reduces oxygen levels in the water and triggers algae
blooms, resulting in serious problems in Puget Sound, according to
petition submitted to the EPA.
“Ecology determined that over 80 percent of the human sources of
nitrogen in Puget Sound comes from cities and towns, but it
continues to issue discharge permits as if it were completely
ignorant of these facts,” Nina Bell, the group’s executive
director, said in a
“It’s just flat out illegal to issue permits that contribute to
harmful pollution levels,” she added. “These permits are the
walking dead, existing merely to create the impression that the
state is doing its job to control water pollution when it is
Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers, one of the most amusing
bands in the Pacific Northwest, is touring Western Washington this
month, with stops in Port Townsend, Gig Harbor and Seattle.
Two years ago, when writing about how fishermen can save
rockfish from barotrauma, I featured a video by Ray and the band in
Water Ways (June 22, 2015). This video includes a rockfish
puppet and an original rap song by Ray Troll and Russell Wodehouse
telling all about the problem.
Besides music, Ray is well known for his “fin art,” which is
mostly about fish of all kinds, especially salmon. Ray prides
himself on the realistic images of fish, produced with scientific
precision, which he combines with humor to create some edgy
The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward to protect
people’s health from toxic chemicals, despite an executive order
from President Trump that requires two existing regulations to be
repealed for every new regulation approved.
On Tuesday, the EPA will hold a public hearing to help develop
rules for controlling the use of 10 chemicals evaluated under the
revised Toxic Substances Control Act. (See
EPA Public Workshop.) As I described in
Water Ways, Dec. 1, these high-hazard chemicals could be banned
or significantly restricted in their use. Seven of the first 10
under review have been found in drinking water at various sites
across the country.
Preliminary information about the chemical risks and the
evaluation process can be found on
EPA’s TSCA website.
The revised Toxic Substances Control Act received overwhelming
bipartisan approval in Congress. Even the chemical industry
supported the law, in part because it would limit what states can
do to ban chemicals on their own. Check out my story in the
of Puget Sound.
We have yet to see how Trump’s executive order on controlling
regulations will affect upcoming rules for toxic chemicals, but the
order is already causing some confusion. It has been ridiculed as
“nonsensical” by environmental groups, which filed a lawsuit this
week seeking to overturn the order. More than a few Republicans say
they don’t know how it will work.