The loss of another orca is a stark reminder of how sick our Puget Sound really is and the importance of river health, salmon recovery, climate change and the impacts of a fast-growing Puget Sound.
By Noelle van der Straaten, TNC Volunteer Content Specialist
Photograph by Walt Kochan
Learn more about urban runoff and easy things you can do to keep Puget Sound beautiful and healthy!
Nestled between mountain ranges and a large body of water, the picturesque Puget Sound region has long been known for its natural beauty. In 2013, Seattle was the fastest growing big city in the U.S., with an estimated population of 3.6 million in the greater Seattle region. This increasing trend is expected to continue in the coming decades.
One challenge that Seattle faces is how to protect its natural environment, including our beautiful local estuary - Puget Sound. Puget Sound is home to many marine species including whales, salmon, harbor seals and sharks as well as recreational activities such as sailing, kayaking and swimming.
Seattle, with its urban core right on the banks of Puget Sound, can have a huge impact on its water quality. During periods of heavy rain, urbanized areas such as Seatttle, with its concrete and asphalt surfaces (such as roads and parking lots) are not able to take in the excess water. Much of this excess storm water makes its way into local streams and rivers and ultimately, into Puget Sound. As high density population areas are the most developed with roads, parking lots and buildings, this is called urban runoff. Urban runoff can pick up trash, pollutants, fertilizers and pesticides on its way to our local water sources. This land-based pollution creates a toxic living environment for all of the species living in our water sources. To learn more about this highly impactful issue, click here.
There are some very easy steps you can do right at home to keep Puget Sound a healthy place for our local marine species! Steps that will help minimize urban runoff include:
Disposing of pet waste and trash properly
Using car facilities to wash your car
Regularly maintaining your car
Planting native plant species
Using little or no pesticides and fertilizers
Using rain barrels to capture water
Learn more about these simple steps here.
Working together to keep Puget Sound healthy for future generations
The Nature Conservancy, the city of Seattle and others are working to raise awareness about this issue and leverage legislative funding, all to empower Seattleites in helping keep our local water sources healthy for marine species and beautiful for future generations!