Letters to the Editor

Western Washington must clean up its act | Federal Way letters

I’m glad to see that few people these days dispute the pollution in Puget Sound.

However, the effects of that pollution on the Sound and our communities still seem to be under popular debate. Various reports based on scientific monitoring and research have drawn several conclusions about what water pollution does to Puget Sound.

Among these conclusions are the looming facts that toxic levels in Puget Sound are high and that these extreme toxic levels harm our salmon and our shellfish as well as threaten the safety of our public beaches. If anyone is interested in reading the evidence leading to these conclusions, see the State of the Sound 2007 Report (can be found online) or visit the Department of Ecology Web site. The negative implications of these findings provoke the question of how Puget Sound will look in the future if pollution continues to accumulate. One answer is that salmon (or any other fish for that matter) will be deemed too toxic to eat and that large numbers of public beaches will become restricted access or even closed because of high bacteria levels.

The existence of this answer as a reasonable possibility for the future caused me puzzlement when the Aug. 8 letter “Puget Sound and environmental rhetoric” implied people who seek to avoid this future are just environmental alarmists. I understand that any group with political and social causes, such as environmentalists, will sometimes exaggerate the truth, but in this case the truth actually is that Puget Sound is polluted and that this pollution has negative effects for marine ecosystems and us. To look at this truth and understand the scientific links between pollution and harm is reason enough for many people to be alarmed.

In the spirit of facts, I would like to add two more to this letter. One of these facts was established thousands of years ago, while the other only came into being recently. While Victoria, B.C., is guilty by all means of dumping of raw sewage into the water, the body of water they are polluting is the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is north of and not a part of Puget Sound. The pollution of Puget Sound is not a result of Canadian actions, but of our decisions and practices here in Western Washington. Second, as of two months ago leaders in British Columbia approved a $1.2 billion project to build four sewage treatment plants in Victoria that will clean the sewage produced by the city and neighboring suburbs. Victoria has cleaned up their act; so should we, here at home in Puget Sound.

Laura Livingston, Federal Way

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