Sound Off: Puget Sound pollution starts here, and here and here

With over 4 million people living around Puget Sound, it adds up to approximately 140,000 pounds of toxins a day in open water. Polluted waters already impact the region’s $147 million annual commercial and recreation fishing industry and the $9.5 million tourism industry. But there are things that can be done to prevent it.

Take a look at some common toxins. Animal waste can end up on a shoe or be washed into a storm drain which would convey it to open water. Pet poop has bacteria and pathogens that are harmful to wildlife and human health. Pet owners are encouraged to bring a bag, pick up after their pet, tie the bag shut and deposit it in a trash can.

Furthermore, less is better when it comes to treating yards with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The more used, the more the natural functions of soils, plants and insects die off. For a healthy lawn and garden use organic compost. Tour the compost demonstration site at Oak Harbor’s Municipal Shop at 1400 NE 16th Ave. For more information visit www.wastewise.wsu.edu or call 678-7479.

Additionally, automobiles contribute nasty fluids and heavy metals from brakes and tires that are especially harmful to fish. It’s important to promptly fix oil leaks. Park over cardboard or use kitty litter to absorb oil spills. Carpool, take a bus, bike or walk. Leave the car at home.

Washing your car over pavement can flush oil, grease, soap, and dirt down the storm drain and into open water. Instead take your car to a commercial car wash, wash it on the lawn with biodegradable soap or support an environmentally clean-fundraising car wash and support a local charity.

The city of Oak Harbor urges fundraising groups to use car wash kits available from the Public Works Department. The kits re-route the dirty water from a storm drain to a sewer drain where the water will be treated. Kits are easy to set up at several approved and highly visible sites. For more information call 360-914-7994 or visit www.oakharbor.org. Click on Resident and scroll down to Car Wash Fundraiser.

The worst pollution in Puget Sound comes from its storm water. This is a “watershed moment.” Learn more about the issues facing Puget Sound including an update on low-impact development features on Whidbey Island at Oak Harbor City Hall from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, with Beach Watcher Tillie Scruton, Rob Hallbauer of the Whidbey Island Conservation District and Maribeth Crandell, City Environmental Educator.

Maribeth Crandell is Oak Harbor’s environmental educator.

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