Washington, D.C. (April 8, 2021) – Following the closure of the public comment period for the Washington Department of Ecology’s preliminary Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) released the following statement urging Governor Jay Inslee and the Department of Ecology to protect critical Chinook stocks in Puget Sound from dangerous wastewater disposal and industrial runoff in King County:
“As some continue pointing the finger at the Lower Snake River Dams, the State of Washington recently proposed a new general pollution permit that will illegally allow 58 sewage treatment plants to continue to pollute Puget Sound and jeopardize salmon stocks that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency has indicated are the most valuable to the prized orca, Southern Resident Killer Whale,” said Rodgers.
The proposed permit would allow for the continued dumping of lethal pollution into the Puget Sound, killing critical salmon stocks and leaving no hope for restoration of the species. The continued destruction of the Puget Sound – and subsequent devastation of the Chinook – will only further endanger the orca population in the Pacific Ocean.
She continued, “As the Washington Department of Ecology considers public comments on this general pollution permit, we should all be aware of the devastating impact unchecked pollution in Puget Sound has had on Chinook Salmon and the Southern Resident Killer Whale. The ecosystem in Puget Sound is out of whack. The unfortunate reality is that instead of coming together to address pollution that is proving to be lethal to salmon, too many people would rather turn a blind eye to what’s happening on the west side of the state and instead attack the clean, reliable, and affordable energy we are making in Eastern Washington.”
She concluded, “I’m calling on the Department of Ecology to protect Chinook in Puget Sound from deadly pollution and encouraging all parties interested in saving salmon and the Southern Resident Killer Whale to come together to have an honest conversation about how resources can be best directed towards achieving meaningful results for salmon recovery. The first step is to bring an end to the lethal dumping in Puget Sound.”
NOTE: In a 2018 paper, NOAA Fisheries identified the Chinook stocks in the Northern Puget Sound and Southern Puget Sound as priority prey stocks for the Southern Resident Killer Whale. According to a 2019 report from the Washington Department of Ecology, since 2006, between 19 percent and 23 percent of Puget Sound has failed to meet oxygen standards mandated by the Clean Water Act. Nitrogen from untreated wastewater has contributed to this noncompliance, evidenced by the increasing presence of algae and jellyfish in the Sound throughout the year.