Features Archive 2014

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King Tides

posted: December 26, 2014
program: Shorelands and Environmental Assistance

Help us track king tides with your photos

It’s that time of year again; time to grab your camera and snap some photos of the extremely high King Tides occurring along Washington’s shorelines. Your photos give a glimpse of what the future may look like for our shorelines. They help our scientists track changes through the years.

For more information, see:
> King Tides: A glimpse into tomorrow, a photo challenge today (ECOconnect blog)
> 2014-15 king tide schedule and map
> More info on king tides in Washington

E-Cycle Washington

posted: December 17, 2014
program: Waste 2 Resources

Recycle your old electronics

A quarter of a billion of anything is a lot. A quarter of a billion people is the population of the United States, minus California and Texas. Stack a quarter of a billion pennies, and you’d have a tower 236 miles high. And if you put a quarter of a billion pounds on the scale, it would weigh the same as 449 fully loaded Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners.

For more information, see:
> E-Cycle tops one-quarter of a billion pounds recycled (ECOconnect blog)
> Electronics recycling in Washington
> Look up where to recycle
> Coming in January, fluorescent bulb recycling

Instream Flows

posted: December 1, 2014
program: Water Resources Program

Protecting Washington Water Supplies

If you reside in the state of Washington, the water coming out of your tap represents only a tiny fraction of your stake in the water resources of the state.

Consider yourself the proud owner of all the water in the lakes, rivers and streams of the state, as well as all the groundwater you don’t see. Under law, the water resources of Washington are owned in common by the people of our state, and the Department of Ecology works for you to manage those water resources for your benefit and the benefit of more than 6,970,000 residents of Washington.

For more information, see:
> New video is window on how your water resources are managed (ECOconnect blog)
> Instream Flows in Washington
> Washington Water Supply Information

If you burn, burn clean

posted: November 14, 2014
program: Air Quality Program

Home heating with wood

Colder weather is here and about half the homes in Washington heat with some sort of wood-burning device like a wood stove or fireplace. If you’re heating with wood, don't you like fires that produce more heat, use less wood, and are less smoky?

If you are not burning seasoned (that means aged and dry) firewood, a lot of your heat is literally going up in smoke.

For more information, see:
> Why burn bans in cold weather? (ECOconnect blog)
> How you burn makes a difference in your pocket and in the air (ECOconnect blog)
> Tips for heating with wood
> Find out if there is a burn ban in your area

Composting reduces food waste

(Flickr slideshow)
posted: September 24, 2014
program: Waste 2 Resources Program

Composting turns would-be waste into valuable product

Food is the largest component of our garbage by weight, at 17 percent in Washington and 21 percent nationwide. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, about 40 percent of the food grown in the United States isn't eaten. Meanwhile, about 15 percent of our population doesn't know where their next meal will come from. One solution this problem is by composting food scraps. Composting provides a valuable product that improves soil health.

For more information, see:
> Garden Talk (ECOconnect blog)
> Food Waste Prevention (Organic materials management)
> Compost & Healthy Soil

National Pollution Prevention Week, Sept. 15-21

(Flickr slideshow)
posted: September 15, 2014
program: Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction

Keeping our air clean, our waters pure, and our communities safe

Pollution prevention (P2), source reduction, sustainable production — these all describe methods to increase business efficiency through safer processes. Practitioners of P2 substitute less-toxic materials for hazardous ones, and reduce or eliminate hazardous substances by improving processes. P2 protects human health, saves money and preserves the environment.

Sept. 15-21 is Pollution Prevention Week, and we're taking the week to explore some of the ways Ecology is working to keep our air clean, our waters pure, and our communities safe from toxic chemicals.

For more information, see:
> ECOconnect blogs about pollution prevention
> Pollution Prevention and Planning in Washington State
> Success Stories

Watching the Sound

posted: August 21, 2014
program: Environmental Assessment Program

Eyes Over Puget Sound report

If you haven't gotten up to the San Juans this summer, Eyes Over Puget Sound can take you there. Our August cover shows a bird's eye view of Sucia Island — looking like a giant downward-facing hand. We saw an intense yellow-green phytoplankton bloom inside Fossil and Mud bays in this photo taken at 11:22 a.m. last Monday.

Sunshine and warm temperatures have returned after last week's intense rain. We observed that the Puyallup and Nisqually rivers are flowing high. Red-brown blooms and numerous patches of jellyfish remain strong in South Sound, Sinclair and Dyes Inlets, and in Bellingham Bay. And we saw brown-green blooms in Whidbey Basin.

For more information, see:
> Eyes Over Puget Sound (ECOconnect blog)
> All issues of the Eyes Over Puget Sound report
> Marine Monitoring

Smoke from Wildfires

posted: July 23, 2015, 2014
program: Air Quality Program

We monitor smoke so you can protect your health

Wildfires have been causing smoky, hazy air off and on throughout the state. The severity of the smoke impacts depends on weather patterns. If the air isn't moving, the concentration of fine particles increases in the air. Smoke from fires can travel rapidly, affecting air quality hundreds of miles downwind.

For more information, see:
> Air Quality monitoring data
> Washington Smoke Information blog
> We monitor smoke so you can protect your health (ECOconnect blog)

Litter Crews - Ecology Youth Corps

posted: July 3, 2014
program: Waste 2 Resources

Making a Difference One Piece of Litter at a Time

Drivers are urged to watch out for 248 teens with the Ecology Youth Corps (EYC) picking up litter along roadways across the state through mid-August.

EYC crews based out of the Department of Ecology's northwest and eastern regional offices started working in late June. The central crew began July 1, and the southwest crew begins work July 7.

For more information, see:
> Making a Difference One Piece of Litter at a Time (ECOconnect blog)
> Ecology Youth Corps (EYC)
> EYC Litter crew photos on Flickr

Ferry-Based Water Monitoring

posted: June 25, 2014
program: Environmental Assessment Program

Ferries for Science

To improve our understanding of Puget Sound and our ability to keep it healthy, state marine scientists have collaborated to install a high tech water monitoring sensor on the hull of the 64-car Salish that makes daily crossings between Port Townsend and Coupeville. Monitoring of Puget Sound is important because it helps us understand long-term trends and changes over time.

The state's innovation began in 2009, when the Department of Ecology gained permission to install oceanographic sensors on the private passenger ferry Victoria Clipper IV that transits between Seattle and Victoria. The sensors measure phytoplankton concentrations, turbidity, freshwater influence, salinity, and water temperatures during the ferry's twice-daily runs. ?Now in the program's fifth year, the Victoria Clipper monitoring program is helping us better understand algae blooms, plankton food web interactions, river plumes, and changes over time in Puget Sound.

For more information, see:
> Ferries for Science: Technology hitches a ride to better understand Puget Sound (ECOconnect blog)
> Ferry-Based Monitoring of Puget Sound Currents
> Marine Water Quality Monitoring
> Saving Puget Sound

Clean, green boating

posted: May 30, 2014
program: Water Quality Program

Be a good steward of our waters

Boat owners play an important role in protecting water quality while they enjoy the water and when they repair and maintain their investment. As little as a quart of oil, diesel, or gasoline can contaminate acres of water and shellfish beds, and can prove deadly to all forms of aquatic life.

For more information, see:
> Clean, green boating
> Boating tips
> Fueling recreational boats
> Washington Waters - Ours to Protect

Ecology Youth Corps (EYC)

posted: May 14, 2014
program: Waste 2 Resources Program

Making a Difference One Piece of Litter at a Time

Since 1975, the Ecology Youth Corps (EYC) has hired over 12,000 teens ages 14 to 17 to clean roadsides and other illegal dump sites. Youths from all over Washington gain valuable job skills, teamwork experience, safety awareness and education about environmental topics.

For more information, see:
> Making a Difference One Piece of Litter at a Time (ECOconnect blog)
> href="/programs/swfa/eyc/index.html">Learn about the Ecology Youth Corps
> href="/programs/swfa/litter/laws.html">Litter laws and fines

Earth ... pass it on: 44 Years of Environmental Protection

posted: May 5, 2014
program: Communications & Education

Ecology then and now: Twilight Zone's Rod Serling narrates

This video was originally a slideshow on Ecology's early years narrated by creator of The Twilight Zone Rod Serling donated his time and talent to narrate this slide show about the fledgling Department of Ecology in 1974. This "update" looks at environmental progress over the past 40 years.

For more information, see:
> Making of the video with Rod Serling (ECOconnect blog)
> Ecology factoids on Flickr
> Learn more about the Department of Ecology

Earth ... pass it on: Earth Day Interview

posted: April 22, 2014
program: Executive Office

Earth Day 2014 - Interview with Maia Bellon, Department of Ecology Director

I kid you not, this completely unscripted video interview with our director, Maia Bellon, will make you laugh out loud. Maia spends time answering tough, thoughtful and inspirational questions, asked in only a way a kid could ask them, about what it's like being the director of the agency and why Earth Day is so special.

For more information, see:
> Earth Day 2014
> Earth ... pass it on (ECOconnect blog)
> Facts about Ecology - factoids on Flickr

Earth ... pass it on: Toxics

posted: April 16, 2014
program: Waste 2 Resources

Tackling Toxics: Testing Children's Products

Toxic chemicals, especially long-lasting ones that build up over time, can be found everywhere — our air, land, water, and bodies. Children are more sensitive to toxic chemicals than the general population.

Ecology has tested more than 200 children's products sold in Washington to verify that manufacturers are following laws that regulate the use of toxic chemicals. In this video, Ecology's Carol Kraege, who leads our efforts to reduce toxic threats, tells the tale of a baby shoe that was removed from stores after failing to meet standards.

For more information, see:
> Tackling Toxics: Children First (ECOconnect blog)
> Reducing Toxic Threats - an Ecology priority
> Earth Day 2014
> More Earth Day blog stories

Eyes Under Puget Sound

posted: April 9, 2014
program: Environmental Assessment Program

Studying benthic invertebrates

We have 20 new images of the more than 1,200 unique species of tiny invertebrates, including worms, clams, snails, shrimp, crabs, brittle stars, and many others, that live in the sand and mud at the bottom of Puget Sound.

Scientists refer to these creatures as benthic invertebrates, or benthos, meaning bottom-dwelling. The benthos are eaten by larger invertebrates such as fish, birds, and gray whales.

Theses tiny animals are an essential link in the Puget Sound food chain.

For more information, see:
> Studying Puget Sound benthos (ECOconnect blog)
> More photos on Flickr
> Marine Sediment Monitoring program
> Saving Puget Sound

(this Flickr slideshow uses Adobe Shockwave)

Dust Storms and Air Quality

posted: April 2, 2014
program: Air Quality Program

Strong winds and dust are a bad combination with health risks

Dust may seem like a fairly mild problem compared to other air pollutants. But if you live in certain areas of Central and Eastern Washington, you probably know how serious the problem of windblown dust in the air can be.

From spring through fall, high winds in the Columbia Plateau region can combine with dry weather conditions and unprotected fields to result in dust storms. These dust storms can lead to extremely high levels of particulate matter air pollution.

For more information, see:
> Strong winds and dust are a health risk (ECOconnect blog)
> Outdoor dust and your health
> Air monitoring information and data

Wanapum Dam concerns

posted: March 12, 2014
program: Water Resources Program

Drawdown of Columbia River at Wanapum Dam

Ecology is working closely with Grant County and Chelan County public utility districts monitoring temporary water levels in the Wanapum and Rock Island pools and evaluating how water users may be affected by the lowering of both pools due to structural concerns at the Wanapum Dam.

For more information, see:
> Wanapum Dam structural damage could affect water supply
> Wanapum Dam Impact on Irrigators (PDF of briefing presentation)
> Dam Safety

(this Flickr slideshow uses Adobe Shockwave)

Innovative partnerships restore wetlands

posted: February 24, 2014
program: Shorelands and Environmental Assessment Program

Ecology awarded 2014 grants for 3 projects

Once regarded as wastelands, wetlands are now recognized as important features of our landscape. In fact, healthy coastal wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems on the planet, comparable to rainforests and coral reefs. Wetlands are part of a diverse and complex set of ecosystems that are vital to Washington's economy and an important part of our natural heritage.

Ecology was recently awarded $2.2 million in grant funding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support three critical coastal wetland projects in Washington state. Using matching funds from this grant program, Ecology has a long history of successful partnerships with tribes, cities, counties, federal and state agencies and others to acquire, restore and enhance coastal wetlands throughout Washington.

For more information, see:
> National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program
> Wetlands aren't wastelands (ECOconnect blog)

Ecology Director Maia Bellon on TVW

posted: February 11, 2014
program: Executive Office

TVW's "Inside Olympia" with Austin Jenkins features an interview with Maia Bellon

Climate change, low-carbon fuel, water quality, oil train safety — all are on the table at the State Capitol. Austin Jenkins interviews Washington Dept. of Ecology Director Maia Bellon.
(Original air date: Feb. 6, 2014)

For more information, see:
> Reducing and preparing for climate impacts
> Reviewing environmental impacts of proposed coal projects
> Reducing toxics in fish, sediments and water
> Overseeing Hanford clean-up activities

Benthic Invertebrates in Puget Sound

posted: January 16, 2013
program: Environmental Assessment Program

Close-ups of critters from Bellingham Bay

The communities of small invertebrates, also known as benthos, living in the sand and mud at the bottom of Bellingham Bay are showing signs of stress. These communities have been impacted in some way by either natural or human-influenced environmental stressors.

For more information, see:
> Life is stressful at the bottom of Bellingham Bay (ECOconnect blog)
> Puget Sound ecosystem monitoring program
> Marine sediment monitoring
> Saving Puget Sound

(this Flickr slideshow uses Adobe Shockwave)