Thursday, December 6, 2018

New Online Map: Dirt Alert

A hand holds a smart phone. The Dirt Alert map is displayed on the phone's screen.
The new map is mobile friendly, making it easy to access.
from your home computer or your phone.  

This month we launched a new online Dirt Alert map. The map focuses on the Tacoma Smelter Plume, but also covers areas in the state where soil contamination may exist from arsenic-related contamination: 

·        Everett Smelter cleanup


·        Five Washington counties where soil contamination may exist in former orchard lands
By putting both information and data in one place, we hope to make it easier for residents to find out about arsenic-related soil contamination and resources. The new web application replaces two older, online maps, the Arsenic in Soil Database and the Everett and Tacoma Smelter Search. 

New look- Same data
The upgrade means faster downloading times and the ability to access the map by phone. The map also visually displays soil sampling data. Within the Tacoma Smelter Plume and Everett Smelter cleanup area, the map provides access to:
·        Soil sampling maps

·        Soil replacement paperwork

For yards outside of the Everett Smelter cleanup area or Tacoma Smelter Plume Yard Program service area, the map links to our Healthy Actions webpage that teaches you how to protect yourself from arsenic and lead in dirt, and provides contacts for more information.

Questions?
If you have questions or comments about the map, please call the project line at 360-407-7688 and press 2 for Tacoma Smelter Plume. You can also email the Yard Program Outreach Coordinator at Crescent.Calimpong@ecy.wa.gov.

Get the latest updates:
·       Follow our blog!

·       Visit our webpage on the Tacoma Smelter Plume.

·       Sign up for email updates on our listserv.


A map of the Tacoma Smelter Plume, displaying predicted arsenic for the areas closest to the former smelter. The link to the dirt alert map is:  https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/dirtalert/
The home page of Ecology's new, online map, Dirt Alert.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



By Crescent Calimpong, Toxics Cleanup Program

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Boots on the ground: WCC answers deployment calls to the Carolinas and Florida


In addition to planting native trees and shrubs along rivers and streams, and building hiking trails, our Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) members provide disaster services in Washington and across the country. Our members and supervisors have assisted communities after fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, oil spills, and more. So far this fall, our members have been deployed to South Carolina and Florida to assist families after devastating hurricanes. Learn more about our latest deployments below!


Last Sunday, Dec. 2, 36 AmeriCorps members and WCC staff departed for North Carolina and Florida to assist communities after Hurricanes Florence and Michael made landfall. Members will collaborate with AmeriCorps programs from around the nation to remove hazard trees, install roof tarps, muck and gut structures, and serve as command staff to help organize the overall response effort.  Learn more about current WCC community assistance and recovery activities in a recent blog.

Our AmeriCorps members install a tarp on a home in Florida.
Photo contributed by Chelsea Krimme.

Continuing response in Florida 

Our AmeriCorps members have been serving in Florida since mid-October. The first wave of AmeriCorps members helped set up response operations in Tallahassee, train additional AmeriCorps program members, and returned home to Washington Nov. 20.

Full of fresh energy, a second wave of 24 members and supervisors arrived in Florida this past weekend, ready to hit the ground running! They spent their first few days in Panama City training on how to install roof tarps, learning command staff roles, and getting ready to move into the field to assist people and communities impacted by Hurricane Michael. Primary field projects will include removing debris and hazard trees from homes, structures, and yards. They will also potentially be involved in stripping homes down to the bare studs to remove water-damaged material and prevent mold. This activity is called “mucking and gutting.”

Chelsea Krimme, a WCC crew supervisor, demonstrates
how to safely remove a hazard tree. Photo contributed
by Leo Arias.
As of Nov. 12, AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams, also called A-DRTs, had removed 383 hazard trees and installed tarps or performed temporary repairs on 31 homes or structures in Florida.

Answering a call to North Carolina  

We have 12 WCC AmeriCorps members and supervisors teaming up with Utah Conservation Corps to assist communities in North Carolina, based out of the town of Willard. While several will hold command staff positions, the other 10 will serve as strike teams, assisting survivors with muck and gut projects. They are focusing on suppressing mold in homes and serving as a “mobile strike team unit” –  assisting prioritized homes and structures located farther away that have yet to receive assistance.


Support continues in South Carolina

Our second wave of members serving in South Carolina arrived in mid-November and they have already settled into their roles as part of command staff. AmeriCorps member Daja Curtis, serving as a media officer for AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team, was deeply affected by the effects of the storm immediately upon arrival.

Before moving out into the field, AmeriCorps members
receive training on tarp installation procedures.
Photo contributed by Chelsea Krimme.
“After only being here for three days, I have been touched by the stories and amazing spirits of the survivors,” Curtis said. “The homeowners I've been in contact with have been underserved and faced many hardships, but they stay hopeful doing everything they can to start their lives over with a smile on their face.”

As of Dec. 4, A-DRTs have cleared 3,539 cubic yards of debris and conducted mold suppression on 11 South Carolina homes.

Learn more about WCC

Ecology's Washington Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program, provides hands-on experience, field skills, and training opportunities to young adults between 18 and 25 and military veterans. WCC consists of three subprograms: the original WCC, Veteran Conservation Corps and Puget SoundCorps. Recruitment for 11-month positions in the 2018-19 year has wrapped up, but six-month positions will open in January 2019! See photos of the types of projects WCC members support during their service in our WCC Projects Flickr set and WCC Featured Projects Story Map. Learn more on our website. 







Monday, December 3, 2018

Fecal Matters: No-contact advisory for North Dyes Inlet, Kitsap County

BEACH Program update



On Dec. 1, Kitsap Public Health District issued a "no-contact" advisory for North Dyes Inlet due to a sewage spill. The no-contact advisory will be in place through Dec. 8. Signs are being posted at public access points including Silverdale Waterfront Park, Anna Smith Park, and Old Mill. The public is advised to avoid contact with the water in the affected area.

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


Julianne Ruffner, our BEACH Program Manager, is available at 360-407-6154 or by email at julianne.ruffner@ecy.wa.gov if you have questions.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Oak Harbor has Puget Sound’s future in mind


The city of Oak Harbor is about to bring Puget Sound’s newest wastewater treatment plant online. It’s designed to fit alongside a revitalized downtown park, service the community’s needs for many years, and contribute to continuing efforts to restore and protect water quality in the Sound.  

The administration building at Oak Harbor's new wastewater treatment
plant will include an interpretive center and multi purpose space. 
Oak Harbor dedicated its new plant, located on the Whidbey Island city’s namesake inlet, today. We couldn’t be happier to be part of the celebration. 

We’ve provided over $105 million dollars in financial assistance, through low interest loans and grants, for design and construction of the $128 million dollar project.

New capacity

The plant will be able to treat up to 5 million gallons of wastewater per day. The city’s current daily volume is about 1.5 million gallons, serving about 22,300 people.

“I want to commend the city for its early and ongoing proactive community outreach and communication. The city went to great lengths to ensure that information was shared with its citizens from planning through construction,” said Jeff Nejedly, who oversees Ecology’s Water Quality grants and loans, at the ribbon-cutting event.

Jeff Nejedly, financial assistance supervisor, and Shawn McKone,
municipal wastewater treatment plant permit manager, were among
Ecology's staff who helped the city develop the new facility.
The new all-indoor plant replaces two outdated facilities. One was a smaller city-owned plant that was located near the new plant site. The other is a large wastewater lagoon plant located at Naval Air Station Whidbey – Seaplane Base.

Advanced technology

Oak Harbor’s new system treats wastewater with membrane bioreactors, or “MBRs.” The advanced technology uses ultra-filtration membranes to remove solids left over after beneficial microbes digest the city’s sewage. The result is water that has had most of its impurities removed and residual solids that can be further processed for beneficial use as a fertilizer.

“This advanced wastewater treatment system is capable of producing high-quality “Class A” reclaimed water that can be used for irrigation in parks and in other public areas. This can reduce dependence on drinking water sources for activities that don’t require drinkable water,” said Nejedly.

Oak Harbor's new treatment plant, upper right, nears completion
next to Windjammer Park, center, undergoing its own upgrade.

Re-usable water

The first planned use for the plant’s reclaimed water will be irrigation for the adjacent Windjammer Park, which the city is redeveloping in tandem with the treatment plant project.  The city is in the process of finalizing a proposal to divert a portion of the water produced at the facility for these purposes.

The MBR technology is capable of producing water that contains lower levels of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, than conventional wastewater treatment systems. Excess nitrogen can cause conditions that upset the Puget Sound food web. Maintaining healthy conditions promotes the recovery of salmon, which are the natural prey of Puget Sound’s southern resident orcas.

Oak Harbor’s work on the new plant dates back to 2010 and earlier, when city staff and elected officials determined that the city’s growth would exceed the existing treatment plants’ capacity. Staff from our Water Quality Program provided technical review and assistance on sizing and designing the new system, in addition to the financial assistance.

 Get more information from Oak Harbor’s Clean Water Facility Project website.

By Larry Altose, communications manager, Northwest Regional Office

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

There's smoke, but don't blame the (California) fires

The news headlines in recent weeks have been filled with stories about the devastating wildfires in California. Have those fires also filled the skies over Washington with smoke?

Well, yes and no. But mostly no.

With air quality in Western Washington dipping down this week to levels that may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, it's natural to wonder where the particulate pollution is coming from. Given the massive fires to our south, some people are asking if that's the source of our air quality problems.


For the record, the California wildfires are indeed exporting some smoke over Western Washington, as can be seen in the satellite image above. However, most of the pollution recorded on our monitors is likely from wood smoke coming from wood stoves and fires right here at home.


Stagnant air is trapping pollutants close to the ground, and this pattern is expected to last through Wednesday. California smoke will also linger around until then, but most of that will remain aloft.

The only way we’re going to maintain good air quality in our neighborhoods during this time is by limiting woodstove use and refraining from outdoor burning.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Washington, stagnant air prompted Ecology to place burn bans over much of the region starting last week. Ventilation is predicted to improve temporarily, as snow is expected during Thanksgiving. That is allowing us to let the burn bans expire in Klickitat, Ferry, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22.

However, stagnant air will return to North Central Washington for the weekend, forcing us to keep burn bans in place in Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas and Okanogan counties  until further notice.

Whatever part of Washington you live in, check for burn bans before you light a fire:
By Ranil Dhammapala, Air Quality atmospheric scientist

Monday, November 19, 2018

Boots on the ground: WCC assists communities after Hurricanes Florence, Michael

In addition to planting native trees and shrubs along rivers and streams, and creating and improving hiking trails, our Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) members provide disaster services in Washington and across the country. Our crews and supervisors have assisted communities after fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, oil spills, and more. Join us for a closer look into our recent and ongoing deployments to South Carolina and Florida to assist communities after Hurricanes Florence and Michael made landfall.


Sixty-two AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team members gather in Bennettsville
in early November (about 60 percent of the entire team). Photo contributed
by Luke Wigle.

Starting off a new service year with disaster deployment


WCC’s 285 members kicked off a new year of AmeriCorps service on Oct. 1. And just two weeks later, 12 WCC AmeriCorps members and crew supervisors traded their shovels for deployment ID badges as they departed for South Carolina to assist communities after Hurricane Florence hit in September.

Our teams were charged with setting up operations for additional AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRTs), and leading training sessions, such as cultural awareness, and safety, upon their arrival. Other tasks included managing volunteers and donations, and supporting call centers to record homeowners and community members’ existing projects and needs. They also headed out to the field to lead “muck and gut” efforts – stripping a home down to the studs to remove water-damaged material.

As of Nov. 17, A-DRTs had cleared 2,800 cubic yards of debris from homes and yards, and mucked and gutted 70 structures among many other accomplishments!

WCC AmeriCorps member Seth Benish and supervisor Rob Crawford team
up on the first muck and gut project. Photo contributed by Kristine Solis.


Redirected to serve in Florida


After helping establish deployment operations in South Carolina, five of our 12 WCC AmeriCorps members and a supervisor traveled to Florida to start setting up similar operations in Tallahassee. Communities there also need assistance after the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael, especially on projects like hazard tree removal and roof tarp installation.

Our teams also welcomed incoming A-DRTs from six more AmeriCorps programs from other parts of the country, and provided initial training including how to install roof tarps effectively. 

As of Nov. 12, A-DRTs also had removed 383 hazard trees and installed tarps or performed 
temporary repairs on 31 homes or structures.

WCC AmeriCorps members remove debris from
a home in Florida. Photo contributed by Paolo Rosen.

 Fresh energy in South Carolina


Members serving the initial deployment to South Carolina returned home to Washington on Nov. 15, and our members serving in Florida will return home on Nov. 20. On Friday, Nov. 16, five additional WCC AmeriCorps members departed for South Carolina to continue serving communities affected by Hurricane Florence.

Learn more about what happens leading up to and during a disaster response assignment on our latest blog. If federal authorities request and our resources allow, WCC also stands poised to help other communities in other U.S. states and territories recover from recent natural disasters.


Learn more about WCC


Ecology's Washington Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program, provides hands-on experience, field skills, and training opportunities to young adults between 18 and 25 and military veterans. WCC consists of three subprograms: the original WCC, Veteran Conservation Corps and Puget SoundCorps. Six-month positions will open in January 2019! See photos of the types of projects WCC members support during their service in our WCC Projects Flickr set and WCC Featured Projects Story Map. Learn more on our website

A WCC AmeriCorps member learns how to safely install a roof
tarp. Photo contributed by Paolo Rosen.



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fecal Matters: Arness County Park and Kingston Marina are CLOSED to Water Contact Recreation, Kitsap County

BEACH program update


Kitsap Public Health District issued a no-contact advisory for Appletree Cove from Arness County park to Kingston Marina on Nov. 14, 2018. This advisory is due to a 5,000 gallon sewage spill and will remain in effect through Saturday, Nov. 17. Signs have been posted at affected areas and the public is advised to avoid contact with the water in those areas.

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

Julianne Ruffner, our BEACH Program Manager, is available at 360-407-6154 or julianne.ruffner@ecy.wa.gov for questions.