Department of Ecology News Release - January 8, 2013

13-008

State's updated assessment of marine waters gets federal nod

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has updated its assessment of the health of Washington’s marine waters and sediment quality, and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency has given its nod of approval.

The assessment, which is required by the Clean Water Act, is the state’s latest list of polluted waters plus a status of water quality. 

The marine health assessment documents progress in addressing polluted water in specific geographic areas and helps the state recognize locations where additional water pollution control measures are needed.

New to the assessment, Puget Sound is categorized as “waters of concern” for potential harm to fish and shellfish habitat from human activities, including conditions that make the waters more vulnerable, such as climate change, urbanization, and ocean acidification.   

Based on recommendations from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, Ecology has asked the EPA to begin an assessment of water quality criteria relevant to ocean acidification.

Currently, there is no federal guidance to list waters for ocean acidification impacts.

Information about the Governor’s direction on ocean acidification efforts can be found on Ecology’s website.

Ecology uses an alternating schedule to complete separate biannual assessments of marine and freshwaters. The latest list is based on 2010 data.

###

Media contact:  Sandy Howard, 360-407-6408 (desk); 360-791-3177 (cellular); sandy.howard@ecy.wa.gov

Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/water/marine/oceanacidification.html)

Washington’s Water Quality Assessment (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/303d/index.html)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)