Washington State Department of Ecology’s preliminary list released in January of polluted waters includes several of Key Peninsula’s water bodies. The statewide list, mandated by the federal government, is based on water-quality data collected by the department, and the final list will be sent for review to the Environmental Protection Agency after a public comment period.
Once the EPA approves the list, a cleanup plan must be developed for each of the waters. The agency says this is the most complete list ever compiled. Not only does it show “impaired” waters, but also those that pose a concern and those that met standards.
“This is our broadest look yet at the condition of Washington’s waters,” Dick Wallace, manager of Ecology’s water quality program, said in a press release. “It will help us figure out which waterways need the most attention as we partner with local communities to address pollution.”
On the Key Peninsula, Minter Creek has been added since the previous listing in 1998, with fecal coliform bacteria, harmful to humans, and low oxygen levels. Other polluted waters include sections of Case Inlet/Dana Passage and Carr Inlet, both of which contain PCB contamination, among other pollutants.
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, received extensive media attention last month, after U.S. researchers said farm-raised salmon contain so much PCBs that consuming it more than once a month can pose health risks. Other reports followed, saying that wild Chinook salmon in Puget Sound has PCB levels just as high or higher, but the state Health Department said benefits of eating salmon outweigh the potential risks.
The report showed some positive aspects as well. While some segments of Case Inlet were added since the last report, others moved from the polluted category into meeting standards.
To find out more about the report, see http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/303d/2002/2002-index.html. The public comment period is open until March 15, and several workshops have been scheduled. Call (360) 407-6782 for information.