Features Archive 2010

The home page on Ecology’s external website periodically features a more in-depth look at the work we do on behalf of Washington’s citizens. The following is a collection of these features.

This is the work we are doing at Ecology every day. It’s not easy, and we’re not perfect, but the citizens of Washington should know that a committed and talented group of public servants are working hard on everyone’s behalf to secure a quality of life we can all be proud of.
Ted Sturdevant, Ecology director

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Ecology In Focus: Manchester Environmental Lab

posted: December 16, 2010
program: Environmental Assessment

Providing analytical services in general chemistry, organic chemistry, metals, and microbiology

Reliable, quality laboratory services are required to accurately determine the concentrations of environmental contaminants in air, water, and soils. Many of the Washington State Department of Ecology's regulatory decisions are based on the data provided by laboratory services.

For more information, see:
> Manchester Environmental Lab
> Ecology for Scientists
> Environmental Monitoring Data

How to Operate Your Wood Stove More Efficiently

posted: October 12, 2010
program: Air Quality Program

Home Heating with a Wood Stove

Wood smoke is one of the main sources of air pollution in Washington. Wood stoves, fireplaces, and other wood burning devices put out hundreds of times more air pollution than other sources of heat such as natural gas or electricity.

For more information, see:
> Heating with wood
> Home heating burn bans
> The Right to Breathe Clean Air - outdoor burning public service announcement

Water Smart Washington Online Forum

posted: August 30, 2010
program: Water Resources

Sharing, discussion, community: join the conversation

This is your opportunity to take a role in ensuring that Washington’s water supplies are adequate to meet present and future needs. You can help us create a Water Smart Washington and avoid a water short future.

Note: This promotion launched our new Online Forum tool. Water Resources created a "Welcome video" for the forum and had a six-week schedule of weekly questions.

For more information, see:
> Managing our Water

The Famous Greener All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe

posted: August 16, 2010
program: Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction

Safe, Cheap and Works Great!

An infomercial-style video about how to make an inexpensive all-purpose cleaner that's better for you, better for your household and better for the environment.

All purpose cleaner recipe (16 oz)
— 1 tsp liquid soap
— 1 tsp borax
— 2 tblsp vinegar
— 2 cups water

For more information, see:
> Cleaner tips & recipes
- a factsheet about soaps and cleaners, with more recipies

Ecology in Focus: Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) risk management training

posted: July 6, 2010
program: Shorelands and Environmental Assistance

Washington Conservation Corps

Trail building, restoration plantings, and biological monitoring are just a few of the experiences gained through the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC). Additionally, WCC Members attend a series of paid trainings throughout the year (e.g. Wilderness First Responder, Wildland Firefighting, Hazardous Materials Response, Ethnobotany, and GIS/GPS).

For more information, see:
> WA Conservation Corps (WCC)

Ecology in Focus: Spill Readiness Drill

posted: June 08, 2010
program: Spills Program

Special May 5 exercise tested spill readiness in Richland

It may have looked like local and state agencies were busy responding to an oil spill into the Columbia River in Richland on Wednesday, May 5, but there's no cause for alarm. The Washington Department of Ecology and local emergency first responders were just brushing up on their skills to be ready for the real thing. The May 5 exercise offered a new opportunity for Ecology and local first responders to work together to deploy equipment from two of the response trailers. The drill included setting out and anchoring oil containment boom in the river using four work boats.

For more information, see:
> Spills Response program
> News release: Special May 5 exercise will test spill readiness in Richland (May 5, 2010)
> News release: Unannounced exercise today testing spill readiness in Puget Sound (May 10, 2010)
> Blog: Gulf Spill Lessons

Marine Sediment Monitoring in Puget Sound

posted: April 22, 2010
program: Environmental Assessment Program

Marine Sediment Monitoring for Ecology's Urban Waters Initiative

Sediment samples collected by the state Department of Ecology from the bottom of Puget Sound’s Commencement Bay show signs of improved environmental health compared to samples from identical locations nearly 10 years ago. The findings come from a just-released Ecology study, “Urban Waters Initiative, 2008: Sediment Quality in Commencement Bay.”

The Commencement Bay sediment data collection is a follow-up to a previous Ecology sediment study at the same locations in 1999. The new study found reduced levels of toxic metals in the sediments such as arsenic, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, tin and zinc. It found reductions in cancer-causing chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. The study also found healthier populations of tiny sediment-dwelling life known as benthic invertebrates.

For more information, see:
> Marine Sediment Monitoring
> News release: Health of sediments in Commencement Bay improving
> Report: Urban Waters Initiative, 2008: Sediment Quality in Commencement Bay

Earth Week Message from Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant

posted: April 16, 2010
program: Executive office

Every day is Earth Day

At the Department of Ecology, it is our particular responsibility to be stewards of Washington’s natural environment — for today as well as tomorrow. However, stewardship is really everyone’s job. If our way of living degrades that environment over time, today’s generation will fail to meet this basic responsibility. That’s not a situation we can accept, or explain to our children.

As we come to better understand our interactions with our natural environment, we see that in too many ways, the health of that environment is being eroded as time passes. If instead we reach a balance where a strong economy and vibrant communities co-exist with a healthy natural environment, we will have lived up to the responsibility our children and grandchildren have the right to expect of us.

For more information, see:
> Director's message

Emergency Spill Response Tug at Neah Bay

Emergency Spill Response Tug at Neah Bay

posted: April 2, 2010
program: Spills Program

Shifting public funding for Neah Bay response tug

On March 24, 2009, Governor Chris Gregoire signed legislation to shift funding responsibility of the emergency response tug boat at Neah Bay, which the state has funded since 1999, from the state to the maritime industry.

For more information, see:
> About the response tug
> Response tug presentation (pdf)

Preparing for Drought

Animation showing snow pack disappearing in the mountains

posted: March 16, 2010
program: Water Resources

Low winter snow levels affect summer water levels

With water supply conditions continuing to deteriorate across Washington state, Gov. Chris Gregoire has asked the Legislature for $4.2 million in dedicated funding for a 2010 emergency drought response. Snowpack levels in much of the Cascade Mountains range at are 25 percent or more below average putting the state’s agriculture, municipal water supplies, fish and wildlife at significant risk from water shortages. Approximately three-fourths of Washington’s surface water supplies come from mountain snowmelt in the summer.

For more information, see:
> Governor's news release: Gov. Gregoire asks Legislature to re-establish drought relief reserves
> 2010 drought preparation

Documenting High Tide Events in Washington State

Version 2
posted: February 3, 2010
program: Climate Change

High tides and climate change (Version 2 shows January and February photos)

More extreme high tide events are expected to occur on a more regular basis in the future as a result of rising sea levels. In the Olympia region, for example, these high tide events could occur ten times per year by 2050 instead of just once or twice per year, based on a medium projection of 6 inches of seal level rise in 2050 for the Puget Sound region.

This is expected to intensify flooding of coastal areas, especially during major storm events. Rising sea levels also shift coastal beaches inland and increase erosion of coastal bluffs, endangering houses and other structures built near the shore or near the bluff edges. Saltwater intrusion into coastal freshwater aquifers is also expected as sea levels rise.

For more information, see:
> Extreme High Tides
> Blog: Grab Your Waders and Your Camera, and Keep Those Photos Coming!
> Blog: Thank You for the High Tide Photos & Your Questions

Version 1
posted: January 27, 2010
program: Climate Change

(Version 1 shows January photos)

For more information, see:
> Blog: Upcoming Winter High Tides: A Preview of Future Sea Level Rise