Watching Our Water Ways

Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Posts Tagged ‘litter’

Much floating trash winds up in Silverdale

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Silverdale’s waterfront is seeing the effects of recent storms in our area, as documented by Susan Digby, a geography instructor at Olympic College.

Recent storms have brought a lot of trash and marine debris to Silverdale’s waterfront. / Photo by Susan Digby

High stormwater flows have washed litter, debris and dead salmon into Sinclair and Dyes inlets, where currents and winds from the south carry the materials to Silverdale’s beaches, including Silverdale Waterfront Park and Old Mill Park.

“The north end of Dyes Inlet is like the end of a sock,” Susan told me. “When we get rain and wind, everything piles up there.”

Photos of all this debris — including parts of three docks — were taken by Susan on Sunday, just two weeks after her students cleaned up the beach entirely as part of an ongoing study that counts and categorizes marine debris that collects there.

A phenomenal amount of trash winds up on our beaches, including discarded food wrappers that people have carelessly discarded. Just about anything that floats can wash into a stream or storm drain to be carried into one of our local inlets. Some debris may be coming from the nearby streets and parking lots in Silverdale, but some could be coming all the way from Gorst, as suggested by drogue studies (PDF 1.6 mb) conducted by the Navy.

As Susan points out, the debris includes lots of Styrofoam, which can be ingested by birds and sea creatures, as well as baby diapers and syringes, which are a reminder that disease organisms are making their way into our local waters with uncertain effects on the fish and shellfish we eat.

I plan to cover Susan Digby’s student research project in more detail early next year, after 2012 data are compiled.

A piece of a dock washed up on Silverdale’s waterfront during a recent storm. Parts of two other docks also were found. / Photo by Susan Digby


Ecology budget cuts reduce water resources program

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I tackled Washington Department of Ecology’s budget in a story published today in the Kitsap Sun.

My original plan was to lead the story with the water resources program and its 25 percent cutback in staffers who process water-rights applications. The cutbacks will put the state further behind in managing our limited water resources.

Because Ecology has taken a precautionary approach, the result will be less water available to serve growing communities and businesses. That becomes especially frustrating for developers and water utilities, but a lack of overall management is not so good for the environment either.

And we still kind of ignore that fact that people are allowed to drill wells for their single-family homes without much regard for the overall amount of water available. That issue will come home to roost one of these days, because these are the wells most likely to affect streams and wetlands. Conflicting demands will inevitably rise to the surface one day.

Anyway, my original plan was to lead this story talking about water resources, but I chose to focus first on litter. Litter is easier for people to understand, and I thought more people could get into the story from that angle. I know my blood boils when I think of all the trash along the highways. I also discovered some interesting details for my story.

Statewide, Ecology’s Youth Corps will be cut by half. That means less litter will be picked up. As some folks pointed out in comments on the story, we still have work crews from the jails, but that effort also takes money for supervision, transportation and disposal — and not all inmates are eligible to work. The state will still support the inmate crews, though I need to check whether the county will continue the program at the same level. (I’ll try to report that here and in a comment on the story.)

Overall, Ecology will be able to make it through the downtown in the economy without major problems. As with many organizations, the biggest problem will be losing experienced, knowledgeable employees and hiring back rookies when money becomes available.


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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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