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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fecal Matters: Beach reopened at Pomeroy Park-Manchester Beach in Kitsap County, WA

BEACH Program Update

On July 28, 2014, the beach at Pomeroy Park-Manchester Beach in Kitsap County was reopened for water recreation. 

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Visit the BEACH website to find the latest results for these and other saltwater beaches: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Debby Sargeant is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6139 or debby.sargeant@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Around the Sound: What's happening to the Sound's herring?

By Seth Preston, communications manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

Herring are vanishing from Puget Sound's waters.
For several years now, herring stocks in Puget Sound have continued to drop. A recent Seattle Times article says that decrease may be the cause of declining populations of marine birds that depend on herring for sustenance.

Ecology's Toxics Cleanup Program is helping to explore the plunging herring numbers in Port Gamble Bay, which have been falling for over 10 years. We provided funding to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe to conduct two herring studies.
 

What we're doing

Samples were collected early this year; now the laboratory work is being done.

The studies are among our work to restore and preserve the bay and its resources under the Puget Sound Initiative.

Other restoration and preservation work includes:
  • Removing creosote-treated pilings at Point Julia, Martha John Estuary and other locations.
  • Reviving Olympia oyster populations to support restoration of Washington's only native oyster.
  • Revitalizing riparian vegetation along the shores and eelgrass in the waters to support fish, birds and other organisms.

Cleanup also coming

At the same time, we're continuing to work with Pope Resources to design a cleanup of pollution caused by historical operations at the old Pope & Talbot forest products mill on the bay. The mill operated from 1853 to 1995 before closing.
 
We expect in-water cleanup work to start in summer 2015.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Ecology helping huge salmon run clear Washington state's Zosel Dam

By Dan Partridge, communications manager, Water Resources Program

Record numbers of sockeye salmon are swimming up the Columbia River and the Department of Ecology is working with its partners at Zosel Dam near the Canadian border to help as many of them as possible reach their destination.


Sockeye salmon leaping up the fish gate at Zozel Dam
A sockeye salmon leaps up the fish gate at Zosel Dam, one of hundreds moving through the dam last week.
Photo Richard McGuire, Osoyoos Times
The salmon have been migrating upriver annually for a millennium from where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocrean at Astoria, Ore., to the Okanogan River on the Canadian border. This year conditions are such that Washington state is seeing the largest run of sockeye since 1938.

It's a tough run upstream

More than 500,000 fish have passed the Bonneville Dam east of Portland in Oregon but ultimately scores of them won’t make it to their final destination in Canada because of predators, fishermen and dams.

The Zosel Dam at Oroville, owned and operated by Washington state through the Department of Ecology is one of the final hurdles for the fish. The dam, constructed in 1987, has as its primary purpose the maintenance of water levels in Lake Osoyoos. Ecology contracts with the Oroville Tonasket Irrigation District to operate the dam. The lake provides water for irrigation and recreation, as well as the growing fishery in the upper Okanogan Basin.

Flexible rules help the run

Operation of the dam, which does not produce electricity, is governed by orders developed under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 between the U.S. and Canada. For over 100 years this treaty has governed the management of water bodies that cross the border of our two countries. While these orders are confined largely to water quantity issues, they leave Ecology with enough flexibility to meet many demands not covered under the orders.

One of these demands for Ecology and our local, tribal, state and provincial partners is helping these fish get upriver past Zosel Dam as quickly as possible.

“Ecology is able to adjust the configuration of the gates that control the flow of water through the dam to assist fish as they pass through the structure,” said Al Josephy, environmental planner at Ecology. “This passage occurs when water temperatures in the river fall below 24 degrees Celsius (74 degrees Fahrenheit) which happens irregularly through the summer months. When it does happen, the fish rush to clear the dam and move into the lakes and the Okanagan River in Canada.”

Record numbers now

As of Friday, July 25th, fish were moving through the gates at Zosel at a rate of 800 to 1000 fish per hour.

Despite the efforts of Ecology and our partners, a large number of dead fish will likely be seen along river banks and lake shores this year because the size of the sockeye run is so large.

“We get calls every year from folks who assume the fish are dying because of how we regulate water levels at Zosel Dam,” Josephy said. “ The truth is, natural conditions like high temperatures take their toll on the fish runs. We are doing all we can to help sustain this tremendously valuable natural resource.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fecal Matters: Windjammer Park is CLOSED to swimming, Island County

BEACH Program Update

On July 25, 2014, Island County Public Health closed Windjammer Park to swimming due to high levels of fecal bacteria in the water. The public is to have no contact with the water until further notice.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Debby Sargeant is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6139 or debby.sargeant@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Cleaning Up: Cleanup work starts Monday at Carty Lake in Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

By Diana Smith, public involvement coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program

On July 28, the Port of Ridgefield (port) will start cleanup work at the Carty Lake part of the Pacific Wood Treating (PWT) site. PWT treated wood products on the site from 1964 – 1993. PWT went bankrupt in 1993, leaving behind contamination on and off port property.

The port’s contractor will start work by closing areas and moving equipment to the site. Work will continue through October.

Cleanup will focus on the south end of Carty Lake. The port’s contractor will build a small, temporary dam at the end of the lake; dig up and dispose of contaminated sediments; and restore the area with native plants.

Cleanup during railroad overpass construction continues

In June, the port began digging up and collecting dioxin-contaminated soil from the overpass area. The port will cover the soil with a geotextile liner, two feet of clean soil, and later the new section of Pioneer Street.

Lake River cleanup

The port will start prep work for Lake River cleanup in early September.

Cleaning up PWT’s legacy of contamination

From 1996 – 2013, the port cleaned up PWT contamination on port property. In 2013, Ecology and the port entered into a legal agreement for the port to clean up other areas with PWT contamination. Ecology and the port are funding the cleanup.

Stormwater from PWT carried pollutants into Carty Lake, which is in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, and Lake River. Sediments in Carty Lake, especially in the south end, are contaminated with pentachlorophenol (PCP), dioxins, and toxic metals.

Sediments in Lake River near port property are contaminated with PCP, cresols, dioxins, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fecal Matters: Pomeroy Park-Manchester Beach CLOSED to Swimming, Kitsap County

BEACH Program Update

On July 24, 2014, Kitsap County Health Department closed Pomeroy Park-Manchester Beach to water recreation due to a sewage spill from a failing lift station nearby. The public is to have no contact with the water until further notice.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Debby Sargeant is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6139 or debby.sargeant@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Cleaning Up: Shelton’s C Street Landfill now on Hazardous Sites List

By Natalie Graves, public involvement coordinator, Toxics Cleanup Program

As proposed plans for the Shelton Hills Development in the city of Shelton move ahead, community members expressed increased interest in an Ecology cleanup site, called the C Street Landfill. The site is at one end of the proposed development, outside of the development limits.

The landfill, like many inactive landfills across Washington, has not been used for waste disposal for decades. We don’t fully know the nature of the waste placed there, so it’s important to have thorough, fact-based information about the site. The site will be studied and cleaned up under the state’s Model Toxics Control Act, or MTCA.

Ranking the site

A key step in the state cleanup process is called a Site Hazard Assessment (SHA). The SHA is a preliminary evaluation of a site. Its purpose is to look into potential risk and assign priority for site cleanup. After an SHA, Ecology ranks the site with a score of 1 to 5, with 1 representing the highest level of potential risk. Ecology recently completed the SHA for the C Street Landfill and ranked it as a 3 on the Hazardous Sites List.

Ecology uses a ranking method to make sure that sites are ranked relative to each other. Some factors that enter into a SHA ranking are:
  • The amount and type of contaminants present.
  • Site characteristics.
  • How easily contaminants come into contact with people and the environment.

Next Steps

Ecology will name the potentially liable person (PLP) responsible for cleaning up the site. This will most likely be the City of Shelton, since the city owns the property. Ecology and the PLP will work together to draft an agreement to do:
  • A remedial investigation, which looks at the nature and extent of contamination.
  • A feasibility study, which weighs cleanup options.
The public will be able to review and comment on future agreements and draft cleanup plans. Read more about the cleanup process.

Stay informed and weigh in

Public involvement is a key part of the cleanup process. We value keeping the public informed of major milestones and updates about cleanup sites. As site updates and cleanup plans become available, we will work with the Shelton community, stakeholders, and local media to provide information on the site.

The best way to make sure you are informed is joining our mailing lists. Contact Public Involvement Coordinator Natalie Graves at Natalie.Graves@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-0067.