New Report Details Water Quality In Puget Sound

Sep 7, 2012

A new report released Thursday brings together the best data on the environmental health of Puget Sound. Ashley Ahearn reports.

More than 30 scientists from different agencies and organizations put their heads together to come up with an assessment of the water quality in Puget Sound last year.

They looked at all kinds of factors: pH levels, salinity, algae blooms, water temperature, weather patterns, oxygen levels.

And overall, the Sound gets a mixed report card. Acidic water and low oxygen zones in places like Hood Canal and the southern part of the Sound continue to be a problem. There was also an increase in nutrient pollution, from fertilizers and waste, that can cause dead zones.

But Stephanie Moore says it’s not all bad news. She’s the lead editor of the report and an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle.

Moore: “There are some areas in 2011 where we saw improvement. For example the quality of shellfish growing areas in Puget Sound actually improved a little bit in 2011.”

Moore says bringing together all this data will help scientists find patterns and connections between water quality and things like weather patterns or shellfish toxin levels.

Moore: “Puget Sound is such an economic lifeline for Western Washington and the more that we can understand how all of these conditions are connected and how they drive variations in other parts of the ecosystem the better we’ll be able to manage this really unique ecosystem.”

Moore says this report provides valuable baseline data that will help scientists measure future changes in Puget Sound.

You can read and listen to the full interview with Moore here.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio